Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Guess Who: Running Back to Saskatoon

While it was a Top 10 record in Canada for good reasons, The Guess Who’s “Running Back to Saskatoon” only broke the US Hot 100 and charted at #96. I always liked this tune. Somewhere I got a handful of yellow promo copies of RCA Records from the early 70s.

I think F.W. Woolworths sold these in a packet of five in a plastic wrapper for 50¢ or so. RCA must have sold these promo copies rather than to melt them down for new recordings. If I remember correctly, I got The Guess Who single of “Albert Flasher” and several Nilsson 45s.

Anyway, back to the song. We as Americans are so superficial sometimes, that a song that revels in the attributes of (little known to us) locations such as Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and the other Canadian cities would not fly on American radio. The other Saskatchewan locations referenced in the lyrics by Burton Cummings include Moose Jaw, Broadview, and Moosomin. He also mentions the Alberta towns of Medicine Hat and Red Deer, and Terrance, in British Columbia.

When I started doing my genealogical research, I learned about some of these locations as I found relatives in Moose Jaw, Red Deer, and Medicine Hat; however, none lived in Saskatoon to my knowledge. When you read about these Prairie Provinces, you get a sense of sacrifices of the early settlers in this region and the hardships that they endured.

Championing Saskatoon in their lyrics are Cummings and his coauthor guitarist Kurt Winter. Saskatoon, by the way, is the largest city in Saskatchewan – larger that the capital of Regina (where more of my family resides).

The single was an edited version from The Guess Who’s first live album “Live at the Paramount.” The album was recorded at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle on May 22, 1972.

The RCA engineers did an excellent job of taking 6:52 album cut down to 3:27 edit – with listeners not knowing any better.  The edit removes all of Cummings’ spoken word introduction, but also his harmonica playing during songs intro proper. Both are found in the video below.

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