In honour of my new favourite TV series, Downton Abbey, I thought I’d see what, if anything, I could find in the collection from the WWI years.
And I came up with an authentic “war edition” of K-K-K-Katy. ”To Co-operate with the Government and to conserve paper during the War, this song is issued in a smaller size than usual. Save! Save! Save is the watchword to-day. This is the spirit in which we are working and your co-operation will be very much appreciated. Leo. Feist, Inc.” This is written on the front of the sheet. And in fact, it is quite small: about half the size of a standard piece of sheet music.
Billed as the “Sensational Stammering Song Success Sung by the Soldiers and Sailors”, this song was written by one Geoffrey O’Hara, Army Song Leader. O’Hara was born in Canada, and you can find out a ton of information about him in his Library and Archives Canada entry.
There’s some controversy about when K-K-K-Katy was written: the Library and Archives Canada accounts for two: either it was written in Katy’s living room around 1917, or during the time he was teaching patriotic songs to troops in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia in 1918. Possibly it was both: he probably put the finishing touches on it while in Georgia.
Quickly picked up, it was recorded famously in 1918 by Billy Murray.
Jimmy was a soldier brave and bold,
Katy was a maid with hair of gold,
Like an act of fate, Kate was standing at the gate,
Watching all the boys on dress parade.
Jimmy with the girls was just a gawk,
Stuttered ev’ry time he tried to talk,
Still that night at eight, He was there at Katy’s gate,
Stuttering to her this love sick cry.
No one ever looked so nice and neat,
No one could be just as cute and sweet,
That’s what Jimmy thought, when the wedding ring he bought,
Now he’s off to France the foe to meet.
Jimmy thought he’d like to take a chance,
See if he could make the Kaiser dance,
Stepping to a tune, all about the sil-v’ry moon,
This is what they hear in far off France.
K-K-K-Katy, beautiful Katy,
You’re the only g-g-g-girl that I adore.
When the m-m-m-moon shines,
Over the cow-shed,
I’ll be waiting at the k-k-k-kitchen door.
Oh, how sweet. So, I’m thinking now about Downton’s characters going off to war in Series 2, and hoping that the golden-haired maid in that series, Anna, will have her soldier spared. Sighs.