Listen/Download – Everything Is Everything – Witchi Tai To
Listen/Download – Everything Is Everything – Ooh Baby
I hope you’re all well.
The boys and I have narrowly survived a week without my wife. That we made it this far without lapsing into malnutrition or all out war is nothing short of a miracle, and we’re all extremely happy that the Mrs has returned to the nest.
The tune I bring you today is one that I was aware of for many years in cover versions, but only found a copy of the original earlier this year.
‘Witchi Tai To’, which was based on a Native American peyote chant, has been covered many times since its initial release in 1969 by artists as diverse as Harpers Bizarre, Oregon, Brewer & Shipley and Jan Garbarek.
The tune was composed by Jim Pepper, a jazz rock saxophonist with Native American roots who originally recorded it with the band Everything Is Everything.
Pepper made his first recordings with the early jazz-rock band The Free Spirits, which recorded an album for Vanguard in 1966. That group was notable for the inclusion of guitarist Larry Coryell among its members, but it also included guitarist Chip Baker, and bassist Chris Hills who would go on a few years later to join Pepper in Everything Is Everything.
When I started to research this record I was surprised to discover that the Everything Is Everything version of ‘Witchi Tai To’ was a minor hit in early 1969, scraping the outer limits of the Top 40 in a lot of markets.
It is indeed a very catchy tune, and I can imagine a lot of the pop audience simultaneously enchanted and stymied by the chant that runs through the song.
I haven’t heard the rest of the album, but the flipside ‘Oooh Baby’ is very cool in a 1969-y kinda way. It’s only vaguely jazzy in that end of the decade free-festival, mud in between my toes kind of way, tuneful and poppy enough to be accessible, but loose enough to please the long-hairs.
Pepper went on to record frequently as a sideman (with jazzers like Charlie Haden and Paul Motian), and under his own name, as well as working on Native American causes until his untimely death in 1992.
I hope you dig the tunes, and I’ll see you on Monday.