"K-K-K-Katy" was a popular World War I-era song written by Canadian American composer Geoffrey O'Hara in 1917 and published in 1918. The sheet music advertised it as "The Sensational Stammering Song Success Sung by the Soldiers and Sailors", as well as "The Sensational New Stammering Song" The song was first played at a garden party fund-raiser for the Red Cross in Collins Bay on Lake Ontario. O'Hara was from Chatham, Ontario, and taught music at Ontario University.
The lyrics tell of a brave but awkward soldier called Jimmy who is lovesick over the beautiful Katy. He buys a wedding ring before going to fight in France.
The inspiration for the "Katy" of the song was Katherine Craig Richardson of Kingston, Ontario. She was a friend of O'Hara's sister, and her parents recall O'Hara writing the song in their living room.
Performed by Billy Murray recorded in 1918
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Early performances and commercial success
"K-K-K-Katy" was a top 20 song from May 1918 to January 1919 and was number 1 from July to September. It was recorded by Billy Murray on March 8, 1918 and released on Victor 18455.
The sheet music was heavily reprinted.
The song made a comeback during World War II, when songs from World War I became popular at military training camps. "K-K-K-Katy" was one of many songs brought to the front by officers who had heard this song while on leave in England. Older songs such as "K-K-K-Katy" were often preferred over modern songs.
The song was covered by Mel Blanc in his Porky Pig voice in 1949, with some vocalists backing him. The song can be heard on the compilation album Mel Blanc: The Man of 1000 Voices 2007.
Later performances and parodies
The song is also mentioned in Dennis Potter's play Blue Remembered Hills, which was first seen on BBC TV in January 1979. The play is about a group of seven-year-old children played by adults who spend a summer's day in 1943 playing in the woods. Raymond, a child with a stammer, is mocked by the other children, who taunt him several times during the play by singing lines from "K-K-K-Katy".
Katie, the 1987 debut album of post-punk group Bodhitrees, featured a humorous cover of the song to conclude the album.
Additionally, the political-humor group Capitol Steps performed a parody of this song entitled "K-K-Kuwaitis", about the 1990 invasion of Kuwait which began the Gulf War. The song was released on their 1990 album Sheik, Rattle & Roll!
Bradford Dillman's character in The Way We Were heckles Barbra Streisand's character, Young Communist League member Katie Morosky, with "K-K-K-Katie, be my K-K-K-Comrade" in a pre-World War II campus peace rally during the 1973 film.
- Pelger, Martin (2014). Soldiers' Songs and Slang of the Great War. New York: Osprey Publishing. p. 277. ISBN 978-1-4728-0415-0.
- Furia, Philip; Lasser, Michael (2006). America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley. New York: Routledge. pp. 20–21. ISBN 978-0-415-97246-8.
- Paas, John Roger 2014. America Sings of War: American Sheet Music from World War I. Harrassowitz Verlag. pg 218, ISBN 978-3-447-10278-0#
- Smith, Kathleen E. R. (2003). God Bless America: Tin Pan Alley Goes to War. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky. p. 99. ISBN 0-8131-2256-2.
- Who Killed Jimmy Dammit? (Lulu, 2011), pg. 58
- Capitol Steps (Comedy troupe). Sheik, Rattle & Roll! Alexandria, VA: Capitol Steps Productions, 1990. OCLC 24499263
- Crutchfield, Will (December 30, 1984). "Music: P.D.Q. Bach, With Peter Schickele". New York Times. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
- Who Wrote that Song Dick Jacobs & Harriet Jacobs, published by Writer's Digest Books, 1993
- Leo Feist, Inc. Songs the Soldiers and Sailors Sing!: A Collection of Favorite Songs As Sung by the Soldiers and Sailors - "Over Here" and "Over There," Including Complete Choruses Words and Music of 36 of the Most Popular and Most Sung "Newer" Songs. New York, N.Y.: Leo. Feist, 1918. OCLC 24169456
- Parker, Bernard S. World War I Sheet Music: 9,670 Patriotic Songs Published in the United States, 1914–1920, with More Than 400 Covers Illustrated. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006. ISBN 0-7864-2493-1 OCLC 225972248
- Vogel, Frederick G. World War I Songs: A History and Dictionary of Popular American Patriotic Tunes, with Over 300 Complete Lyrics. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1995. ISBN 0-89950-952-5 OCLC 32241433
- Smith, Kathleen E.R. God Bless America: Tin Pan Alley Goes to War. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2003. ISBN 0-8131-2256-2 OCLC 50868277
- Billy Murray's solo recording
- sheet music and music MP3 found at the Illinois Digital Archive
- K-K-K-Katy Sheet Music at the Library of Congress
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