2007   MAY 8   #128

Katie Lee - Songs of Couch and Consultation

Will To Fail (2:34)
Repressed Hostility Blues (2:22)
It Must Be Something Psychological (2:30)

I first discovered Katie Lee on the recently out-of-print RE/Search Records Incredibly Strange Music Vol. 1. A compilation of forgotten mid-century sounds, it includes plenty of garage sale gems: madcap xylophone covers of the "William Tell Overture", Bob Peck's "Sweet 16", (a tough, tongue-in-cheek ballad of juvenile delinquency), and Rajput & The Sepoy's singing sitars version of The Fifth Dimension's "Up, Up, & Away".

Katie Lee's "Will to Fail" stood out among these thrift-store singles as a pleasantly mental tune about a functioning ne'er-do-well. ("I have talents that I never use. I try to win but I love to lose because I've got the will to fail" and "I secretly am enjoying myself but slowly I'm destroying myself.") The original ode to apathy is on the also out-of-print album Songs of Couch and Consultation (Reprise Records, 1961). As this song was virtually my personal anthem throughout my college career, you can imagine my shrieking delight when I found the record ten years later, stamped FOR PROMOTION ONLY, with original cover art in near-mint condition among my grandfather's extensive collection.

Already known for Freudian folksongs on her earlier LP, Life is Just a Bed of Neuroses (RCA Victor, 1960) Katie recorded this a year later with composer Leon Pober and arranger Bob Thompson. Having studied with Burl Ives and Josh White, she elucidates the beatnik zeitgeist with this kooky chronicle of the couch.

Katie finally became a self-actualized woman sometime later, it seems, when she returned to her Arizona home and became an activist for preserving Glen Canyon and the Colorado River. She is equally known for this album and her efforts as impassioned environmentalist.

- Contributed by: Sara Johnson

Images: Front Cover, Back Cover, Side A, Side B

Media: 33 1/3 RPM LP
Album: Songs of Couch and Consultation
Label: Reprise Records
Catalog: R-6025
Credits: Arranged and conducted by Bob Thompson; Lyrics by Bud Freeman; Music by Leon Pober.
Date: 1961