Sunday, July 29, 2007

music: witchi tai to

Scene: Dewey's in Madison, NJ
When: Summer, 2006

"Dan, what's that song?"

"Oh, that's Witchi Tai To by Everything is Everything."

"It's been playing for the last half an hour."

"That's because I have it in a loop."


"Someday you'll want to find a copy. You'll know when."

Well, kids, someday arrived this morning.

Through the magic of Amazon, you can buy a copy Jim Pepper and Everything is Everything's Witchi Tai To on the album Hard to Find 45s on CD, Volume 6: More 60s Classics. The song is track 19 - you can listen to a sample here.

"Bob, what the heck is he singing?"

Hmm. It might be useful to mention that it's a Native American chant?

Here's a phonetic translation:

Witchi Tai To gim-mie rah
Whoa ron-nee ka
Whoa ron-nee ka
Hey-ney hey-ney no wah

According to a group called. . . wait for it. . . Witchi-Tai-To:

The tune Witchi-Tai-To was written by the late jazz saxophonist, Jim Pepper, who was a native American of the Creek and Caw (Plains) tribes. It is based on a ritual peyote chant, and although Jim and his family have done the original chant at numerous pow-wows down through the generations, nobody in the family seems to know the exact translation of the Comanche lyrics. The English lines "water spirit feelin' springin' 'round my head, Makes me feel glad that I'm not dead..." capture the essence of the chant.

When you start looking for different versions of the song, you start turning up some very different interpretations.

Compare the Jim Pepper / Everything is Everything "original" (the video is a montage of disaster and drought footage):

To X-Press 2's take (there's also a remix of this on the GU Mixed Ultimate Edition [CD1]):

Dig a little further and you'll discover a version by Brewer & Shipley of "One Toke Over the Line" fame as well as no end of "soft jazz" versions. In a message from the past, "Tram" reports:

Hello! I've been collecting Jim Pepper music and versions of "Witchi Tai To" for some years. I know of 57 versions released on vinyl or CD; so far, I have 42, all but two on CD! FYI, Dave, the Topo D. Bil version (originally a 1970 U.K. single) can be found on "The Famous Charisma Box Set", a 4-CD compilation from the Charisma label.

Why the sudden interest?

Sometimes when you wake up really, really early and a thought pops into your head, it's best to listen to it.

UPDATE: X-Press did 7 versions of their Witchi Tai To track:
  1. Witchi Tai To (Radio Edit)
  2. Witchi Tai To (Full Length)
  3. Witchi Tai To (M Factor Vocal Remix)
  4. Witchi Tai To (M Factor Instrumental Remix)
  5. Witchi Tai To (Spencer Parker Remix)
  6. Witchi Tai To (2 Lone Swordsmen Remix)
  7. Witchi Tai To (Diesel Remix)


Ron said...

Believe it or not I too had a version of witchi tai to! Long gone...

Anonymous said...

Hey, I've downloaded that, but there's password! I dunno what to do!