Buffy Sainte-Marie – Tall Trees In Georgia (5 days with Buffy – day three)

• “Tall Trees In Georgia” set to a picture of the housing album cover. Thanks to BSainteMarie.

8.2 “Fantastic Folk from Canada”

From her fifth album “I’m Gonna Be A Country Girl Again”, released in 1968 (read my full album review @ The Jukebox Rebel).

A strange entry today – a folk song from an otherwise wholly conceived country album, a unique entry in her catalogue. Regards the LP, I’d say it was a bit of a miss-step; quite why she steered towards a pleasant country affair is a mystery to me. Perhaps she was seeking to enter the American mainstream trojan-horse-style before springing out on The Dick Cavett Show or Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show to highlight the injustices of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. That’s my conspiracy theory (the inclusion of a countrified “Now That The Buffalo’s Gone” backs me up) and I’m sticking to it.

Tellingly, my favoured track “Tall Trees In Georgia” is the sole cut which reverts to her folk roots. It’s a simple song of lonely regret in later life with a message for the young ‘uns; when you see a chance, take it, the onus is on you. It’s just beautifully poised; I do love a doleful dirge, and Buffy’s voice is well suited for such works.

Tall trees in Georgia they grow so high they shade me so
And sadly walking through the thicket I go

The sweetest love I ever had I left aside
Because I did not want to be any man’s bride

My parents took me wherever I travelled out
I travelled west and north and east and south

When I grew older and married I would be
I found my sweetheart but he would not marry me

When I was younger the boys a courtin’ they came around
But now I’m older and they’re all settled down

Young girls take warning and don’t complain an’ don’t make moan
For if you’re fickle you’ll soon be left alone

Control your mind, my girl, and give your heart to one
For if you love all men you’ll sure be left with none

And if perfection were to be found in mortal men
We’d soon grow tired and go off alone again

Tall trees in Georgia they grow so high they shade me so
And sadly walking through the thicket I go

I kind of feel there’s more potential for this song, more torture to be conveyed. Perhaps crying out for the Cowboy Junkies or Low slowcore treatment, now wouldn’t that be something?


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Buffy Sainte-Marie is touring constantly, and coming off her critically acclaimed, award-winning 2015 album Power in the Blood, nobody could ever accuse the Academy Award-winning songwriter of taking it easy. Since her groundbreaking debut, 1964’s It’s My Way!, the Cree singer-songwriter has been a trailblazer and a tireless advocate, an innovative artist, and a disruptor of the status quo.

Sainte-Marie has spent her whole life creating, and her artistry, humanitarian efforts, and Indigenous leadership have made her a unique force in the music industry. In 1969, she made one of the world’s first electronic vocal albums; in 1982 she became the only Indigenous person to win an Oscar; she spent five years on Sesame Street where she became the first woman to breastfeed on national television. She’s been blacklisted and silenced. She’s written pop standards sung and recorded by the likes of Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, Donovan, Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes. She penned “Universal Soldier,” the definitive anti-war anthem of the 20th century. She is an icon who keeps one foot firmly planted on both sides of the North American border, in the unsurrendered territories that comprise Canada and the USA.

In 2019’s climate of damaging #fakenews and toxic hubris, Buffy Sainte-Marie’s incisive honesty, clarity, and intelligent compassion stand out in sharp relief.

buffysainte-marie.com

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