Everglades Songs: If the skeeters don't get him then the gators will

The end of low-mosquito camping season is nigh, and that's got me thinking about campfires and - a natural progression - campfire songs. And what better songs to sing in the Everglades than songs about the Everglades? In this series of posts I'll introduce you to some of my favorites, starting with:

"Everglades" by The Kingston Trio:

About a man who killed someone in a jealous fight and fled to the Everglades, where "a man can hide and never be found." Makes you think twice about doing some fieldwork out there. Turns out a judge ruled he acted in self defense, and he was hiding out for no reason (brings to mind "Dust On My Saddle" done by Seals & Crofts) - but he didn't know that (and his girl got tired of waiting - but, thankfully, that's not the focus of the song!). I'm thinking "if the skeeters [didn't] get him then the gators [did]." This is the song my dad told me I needed to learn before I came down here for my Master's - encouraging!

But it's catchy and darn true: calls to mind stories of the Ashley Gang led by John Ashley in the early 1900s (who killed his trapping partner up around Lake Okeechobee to start a life of gang crime with hideouts in the 'Glades).

But it also recalls vivid memories of fieldwork with insatiable mosquitoes and growling 'gators (okay, my 'gator stories are pretty lackluster, to be honest. Two field seasons and I'm much more afraid of the mosquitoes - the Trio should probably amend their lyrics to "If the skeeters don't get you....well, they always will"). More on the Ashley gang here and in Swamplife by FCE's own Laura Ogden!

Another fun lyric: "But now and then the natives would say /  They'd seen him running through the Everglades." Anyone reminded of the skunk (swamp) ape?

For the Kingston Trio, this song was released in 1960 and offered a bit of a tribute to the Everly Brothers (ending the song with "running through the trees from the Everlys"). I'm a big fan of the Kingston Trio: "Tom Dooley," "Greenback Dollar," "M. T. A.," "Sloop John B," and a host of just traditional-ish folk songs ("500 Miles," "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," "Lemon Tree"). Good campfire songs, many of them covered by another trio - any guesses?

How about you out there? How many of you have heard "Everglades" by the Trio? Waylon Jennings also did a rendition of it. Any favorites of theirs? Any other Everglades songs stick out (I have a few more I'll talk about later)? Let me know in the comments! (Your regularly scheduled algae program will return at some point.)

Full lyrics (and rough guitar chords, for those needing some inspiration around the campfire):

(D)                                              (A) 
He was born and raised around Jacksonville
A nice young man not the kind to kill
But a jealous fight and a flashing blade
(A)                                            (D)
Sent him on a run through the Everglades 
(A)                                            (D)
Running like a dog through the Everglades

Now the posse went in and they came back out
They said he'll die and there ain't no doubt
It's an eye for an eye so the debt is paid
He won't last long in the Everglades
A man can't live in the Everglades

(G)                                       (A) 
Where a man can hide and never be found
(G)                                   (D)
And have no fear of the bayin' hound
(D)                                                   (G)
But he'd better keep 'er movin' and don't stand still
(A)                                                     (D)
If the 'skeeters don't get him then the gators will

(D) (G) (A7)   (D) (G) (A7)

Now the years went by and his girl was wed
His family gave him up for dead
But now and then the natives would say 
They'd seen him running through the Everglades
Runnin' like a dog through the Everglades

Now he never heard the news on the radio
He was deep in the glades he'll never know
His runnin' and hide'n didn't make much sense 
For the jury had ruled it was self defense
Runnin' like a dog through the Everglades

End: Runnin' like a dog through the Everglades
     Skippin' like a dog through the slimy bog
     Runnin' through the trees from the Everly's


  1. Wow. I have never heard that song before. thanks for posting. the "eye for an eye" line makes me think it was inspired by the ashley gang story. thanks again. Laura


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Observing Flooding Extent in South Florida from ‘Super Camera’ 700km above the Earth

Hungry for outreach? Try a Data Nugget!

Do you know the history of your field site?