The Feb. 22nd Love is in Da Blog musical prompt is a love song from an artist in my region. I’ve been eager for this prompt in order to post a song by Colorado native Ken Curtis. Stay with me, because I’m a bit verbose as I lead up to today’s love song, I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen.
Curtis Wain Gates, aka Ken Curtis (1916 – 1991), was born and raised near Lamar, Colorado, which is 50 miles north of where I live in Springfield, Colorado. When he was ten years old, his family moved to Las Animas, Colorado, which is about 30 miles west of Lamar, so his father could run for sheriff of Bent County. His father was elected sheriff.
This photo is of the Old Bent County Courthouse. The jail was the entire second floor. The Gates family lived below the jail, and Mrs. Gates cooked for the prisoners.
Ken graduated high school in 1935, spent 1943 – 1945 in the U.S. Army, then went to college to study medicine. He abandoned his college plans to pursue his musical interests. He was a singer before becoming an actor. The Wikipedia article about Ken Curtis tells us:
“For much of 1948, Curtis was a featured singer and host of the long-running country music radio program WWVA Jamboree. Ken Curtis joined the Sons of the Pioneers as a lead singer from 1949 to 1952. His big hits with the group included “Room Full of Roses” and “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky”.
He moved on to acting in movies, particularly the popular western genre of the time. By virtue of marrying his second wife, he became western film director John Ford’s son-in-law. Curtis has an impressive list of western television shows and movies to his credit.
It is his portrayal of the character Deputy Festus Haggen on the long-running television western Gunsmoke that he is best remembered. He joined Gunsmoke in 1967.
The song he sings in the video below is I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen. My little bit of investigation into the background of this song revealed it was written in 1875 by Thomas Paine Westendorf, who was teaching in Indiana (USA). He wrote it for his wife (Jennie) who was homesick to visit her native New York state.
As an aside, my first memory of this song is from back in the Lawrence Welk Show era (1955 – 1971), and with Joe Feeny singing it.
While I do believe this is one of the loveliest songs ever written, this rendition by Ken Curtis is a shortened version that doesn’t do justice to the song or his singing. But it’s a lovely song, and Ken Curtis is from my area, so there we are.
A YouTube search for the song will provide several much better performances by well-known artists. My personal favorite is by Marty Robbins.
*Old Bent County Courthouse attribution:
Billy Hathorn, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Until next time,
writing through history one romance upon a time
Loved him in Gunsmoke. Didn’t realize he could sing though. Thank you for sharing.
I think he did an excellent job, and it is a wonderful song.
It’s too bad he wasn’t recorded singing the entire song. It’s such a lovely tune.