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Monday, 17 November, 2008

Curt Bouterse And Nixon’s Farewell

Last year, I posted a question at the Banjo Hangout about a "new old time" tune written by Curt Bouterse, called Nixon's Farewell. You can here a generous clip played by the Boiled Buzzards at CD Baby.

Curt responded to the thread, and I'm posting here for posterity (threads at the Banjo Hangout have a way of disappearing). Here's what Curt had to say about his tune:

First of all, Howdy to all from a newcomer to the list. It takes a while for news to filter out to the left coast ever since the Pony Express went bust. Besides, I've always been laid back - even before I was laid off.

I wrote about the origins of Nixon's Farewell years ago in my little book and elsewhere but didn't realize people still cared. Right after the resignation in 1974 I figured something that monumental ought to be noted in music. My initial reaction was the situation resembled the old "Somebody on the Gallows" or "What'shisname's Farewell," and I played around with various Lonesome and Lone melodies without success. Then I imagined a song with the refrain, "And you won't have Old Dick Nixon to kick around anymore." [Those too young to get the reference will have to ask their elders.]

Eventually I came up with this tune - and occasionally sang the "jig words": "Nixon's gone, Nixon's gone," to the ascending run: 1.3.5...6.7.8... and a high "whoo" on the next phrase. Then, "I'm so glad/sad that Nixon's gone," to the 8.1.3.5.6.7.8. phrase, with the last phrase wordless. I considered words for the A strain: "I'm not a crook, no I'm not a crook, that's just what the liberals say; But I got caught with my hand in the pot, so I better be gettin' away," but decided against it, so it's just a tune. It was played so much in the late 1970s some tired of it and I was afraid it might better be called Nixon's Revenge.

By the way, the envelope (with the 1996 Nixon stamp on it) was created by an artist from Santa Cruz. I got some made up as First Day Covers! There are other FDCs available from the Nixon Library website (not those: no sense of humor), some commemorating "the eternal optimism of America's 37th President." (A sense of irony?)

The booklet I published, "Nixon's Farewell," (with Waiting for Nancy and other tunes in it) had a blank back cover. I sent a preview copy to the Western White House in San Clemente in 1975, hoping to get even a form letter back which I could print on the reverse, in the style of Don Novello's Laszlo Toth letters (q.v.). Nary a response. I'm not sure whether they lost it, someone took it home, they filed it under C for Crackpot, or they burned it. Perhaps, someday, it will surface in the archives of the Nixon Library.

I'll close with my favorite line from the Library's website (so many choices, so little time): "For your next special event, choose the Nixon Library."

The mind boggles...
Curt Bouterse


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