Friday Factory Tune: Great Grand Coulee Dam

The local public television stations have been busy with special programming for fundraising purposes, so we’ve had a steady diet of Roy Orbison performing Pete Seeger and the Weavers backing the Temptations, doo wop, doo wop. And Irish colleens and Italian tenors and violin players and boy, too much. The T.A.M.I. Show special was fun, though.

New to us was an “American Masters” documentary about Woody Guthrie, including the anecdote about him singing songs to the troops — black and white — on a troop ship under submarine attack in WWII. In the documentary, his shipmate Jim Longhi recalls the incident.

And we were reminded how much Guthrie appreciated industrial power, as in “The Great Grand Coulee Dam.”

We don’t find video online of Woody singing the song, so here’s Lonnie Donegan.

A Scot singing about damming the Columbia River? Not so surprising: Pre-Stones/Yardbirds, U.S. folk and blues music entered British culture via skiffle. Love the lyrics, too.

Now from Washington and Oregon you can hear them factories hum,
Making chrome and making manganese and light aluminum.
Always a flying fortress to fight for Uncle Sam,
That King Columbia river and the great Grand Coulee dam.

Not a lot of folk songs these days about hydroelectricity.

Leave a Reply