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Don't Fence Me In

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"Don't Fence Me In" is a popular American song written in 1934, with music by Cole Porter and lyrics by Robert Fletcher and Cole Porter. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.

Originally written in 1934 for Adios, Argentina, an unproduced 20th Century Fox film musical, "Don't Fence Me In" was based on text by a poet and engineer with the Department of Highways in Helena, Montana, Robert (Bob) Fletcher. Cole Porter, who had been asked to write a cowboy song for the 20th Century Fox musical, bought the poem from Fletcher for $250. Porter reworked Fletcher's poem, and when the song was first published, Porter was credited with sole authorship. Porter had wanted to give Fletcher co-authorship credit, but his publishers did not allow that. After the song became popular, however, Fletcher hired attorneys who negotiated his being given co-authorship credit in subsequent publications. Although it was one of the most popular songs of its time, Porter claimed it was his least favorite of his own compositions.[2]

Porter’s revision of the song retained quite a few portions of Fletcher’s lyrics, such as “Give me land, lots of land”, “... breeze ... cottonwood trees”, “turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle,” “mountains rise ... western skies”, “cayuse”, “where the west commences,” and “... hobbles ... can’t stand fences,”[3][4][5] but in some places modified to give them “the smart Porter touch”.[6][7] Porter substituted some whole lines, rearranged lyric phrases, added two verses, and composed his own music for it. (Porter's exact verse about Wildcat Kelly was not included in any of the hit recordings of the song but was used in the Roy Rogers film of the same title. Roy Rogers did refer to "Wildcat Willy" when he performed it in 1944's Hollywood Canteen. The opening verse about Wildcat Kelly is included in the Ella Fitzgerald and Harry Connick, Jr. versions of the song).

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