"K-K-K-Katy" was a popular World War I-era song written by Geoffrey O'Hara in 1917 and published in 1918. The sheet music advertised it as "The Sensational Stuttering|Stammering Song Success Sung by the Soldiers and Sailors", as well as "The Sensational New Stammering Song" The song tells the story of Jimmy, a young soldier "brave and bold" who stuttered when he tried to speak to girls. Finally he managed to talk to Katy, the "maid with hair of gold". The chorus is what he spoke:
- 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 cowshed,
- I'll be waiting at the k-k-k-kitchen door.
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.
Later performances and parodies
In 1963, an implied reference was made to it in newspaper headlines. Reporting Sandy Koufax's then-record World Series pitching performance of 15 strikeouts scoring symbol "K", some newspapers bannered the story with "K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-KOUFAX!"
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!.
- Pelger, Martin (2014). Soldiers' Songs and Slang of the Great War. New York: Osprey Publishing. p. 277. ISBN 9781472804150.
- Paas, John Roger 2014. America Sings of War: American Sheet Music from World War I. Harrassowitz Verlag. pg 218, ISBN 9783447102780#
- Smith, Kathleen E. R. (2003). God Bless America: Tin Pan Alley Goes to War. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky. p. 99. ISBN 0813122562.
- 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 0-786-42493-1 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 0-899-50952-5 OCLC 32241433
- Smith, Kathleen E.R. God Bless America: Tin Pan Alley Goes to War. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2003. ISBN 0813122562 OCLC 50868277
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