Monday, November 12, 2012

Native American Heritage Month "Indian Reservation"

Last week I wrote about not knowing that November is Native American Heritage Month here in the United States. This is because since 2008, the day after Thanksgiving has been recognized at the Federal level as  Native American Heritage Day. I guess I missed that memo, because the information came a bit too late for me to really "celebrate" during the whole month across all of my "platforms."  However, I do know of lots of appropriate songs, so here's number two in our Music Monday month-long Musical Salute to Native Americans.

I think "Indian Reservation" by The Raiders was probably the first "Native American" song I ever heard. I grew up in Missouri, so I knew about Geronimo, Sitting Bull, Jesse James, and all sorts of other "Wild West" icons. I didn't know of any real Indians and I didn't know of their particular situation. I do remember seeing The Brady Bunch visit the Grand Canyon, though.

Anyway, this was a huge hit in 1971. I remember hearing it all over the place. I think the early Seventies there was something of a resurgence in Native American culture, because the movie BILLY JACK came out at about this time, too, and was a big hit.

The song itself was written by John D. Loudermilk in 1959. It was recorded first by C&W and rockabilly artist Marvin Rainwater. Another version by Don Fardon was a minor hit in 1968, hitting #3 in the UK. That is where a Columbia Records executive heard it and brought it to the Raiders' attention. By this point Raiders Paul Revere and Mark Lindsay were looking for material. Because lead singer and producer Lindsay was 1/16th Cherokee, he decided to record the song. It was their biggest hit, and their only #1.

It was a few years before I realized that "The Raiders" singing this song was the same group "Paul Revere and the Raiders" who sang "Kicks," "Good Thing," and "Hungry" and who had appeared on an episode of BATMAN in 1966. The Revolutionary War get-ups and comedy shtick were long-gone by the time "Indian Reservation" came around.   

This is from a December 30, 1971  performance
The introduction is by none other than Mr. Kenny Rogers!

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