The Ballad of the Duke
Every now and then I point out that my second passion is classic country music of the Patsy Cline, George Jones and Merle Haggard styles. When I have the opportunity to mix that passion with the movies I usually jump at the chance.
In my home country of Canada there is a singer songwriter by the name of Dallas Harms. For me his claim to fame may have been in writing a Gene Watson standard titled Paper Rosie. Many times during a jam session my Dad would sing that one on his trusty Martin guitar. Dallas Harms was known to appear in our home town honkytonk that my Dad frequented and I know he saw him there back in the eighties.
On an old LP that we had in the house was a song titled The Ballad of the Duke. For me it was a perfect song that combined a country music style arrangement with a tribute in lyrics to John Wayne . While I never actually learned the verses to sing myself there are times when I grab the guitar and sing the chorus which is catchy and I haven’t forgotten the melody. While we all known John Wayne was an American I do believe the fact that this was written and performed by a Canadian reflects that the Duke’s presence was felt just as strongly by his fans north of the border. Proud to number myself in that group.
He’s tall in the saddle
He shoots right from the hip
One eyed Rooster Cogburn
The hero of True Grit
Don’t forget the Quiet Man
Or the clash of the Green Beret
John Wayne’s a living legend
And he’s still with us today.
I have no idea if this song got much traction on radio in Canada or the U.S. but thanks to a fan a rare performance by Mr. Harms can be viewed on youtube. For the John Wayne lovers, it may be a song you’ve never heard so I encourage you to give it a shot and once you get the chorus down, sing along. I’m sure the Duke would appreciate it.
“Baby sister, I was born game and I intend to go out that way. ”