Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kingston Trio -- "Everglades" (1960)

If the skeeters don't get him
Then the gators will

Every time I go to Joplin, Missouri to see my parents, I visit Wildcat Glade, which is one of the few remaining chert glades in the world.

There are only about 60 acres of chert glades left, and about 25 of those acres are along Silver Creek and Shoal Creek south of Joplin.  (Chert -- which is also known as flint -- is a very hard rock.)  

According to the dictionary, a glade is an open space surrounded by woods.  Wildcat Glade has that in common with the famous Florida Everglades -- the vast area of tropical wetlands in southern Florida -- but the two areas are otherwise completely different.

Exposed chert at Wildcat Glade
The chert glades are open areas with very thin soil and lots of exposed rock.  These glades are sometimes called "Missouri deserts" because the soil is too thin to sustain much in the way of plant growth.

Wildcat Glade tree
Prickly pear cactus -- which I'm used to see growing many miles away in south Texas -- flourishes in the the chert glades:

Wildcat Glade prickly pear
When I visited the chert glades, there were plenty of Maximilian sunflowers growing there:

Here's a closeup of one of these wild sunflowers:

I never knew about the chert glades when I was growing up in Joplin.  The chert glades seem to be largely ignored -- I never see anyone when I go for a hike there.  That's probably a good thing as far as preserving this unique habitat goes.

Pools of rainwater collect in the chert
"Everglades" was written by the prolific country songwriter Harlan Howard (1927-2002), who is best known for the Patsy Cline hit, "I Fall to Pieces," which he co-wrote with Hank Cochran.  His other hits include "Heartaches By the Number," which  was a big hit for Ray Price.

Howard, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997, is responsible for this famous definition of a great country song: "Three chords and the truth."

Harlan Howard
One of the first records I remember listening to as a kid was The Best of the Kingston Trio, which was released when I was ten years old.  

I listened to that album countless times on my family's Magnavox console stereo, and I still remember the words to the many great songs on it -- "Tom Dooley," "Tijuana Jail," "Scotch and Soda," "M.T.A.," "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," "A Worried Man," and many others.

"Everglades" tells the story of a young man who kills a rival in a knife flight and then hides out in the vastness of the Everglades, where he is safe from posses and bloodhounds but at the mercy of mosquitos and alligators.  

When the fugitive is tried in absentia, the jury acquits him:

His running' and hid in' didn't make much sense
For the jury had ruled it was self-defense

But our hero is hiding so deep in the 'Glades that he never hears news of the verdict.  TrĂ©s ironique, n'est-ce pas?

Here's the Kingston Trio's recording of "Everglades":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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