Our Song

An Ode to Idaho

Story about our song and history of instruments

In 2012, the Idaho Heritage Trust commissioned a song from Idaho-based recording artist Charlie Sutton. Charlie grew up in Northern Idaho and now lives in Boise where he is a fixture of the vibrant roots music scene. He pulls from a variety of musical styles, combining elements of folk, blues, jazz, and country with an earnest voice and talent for storytelling.

“When IHT asked me to do a song for them, it was an easy decision,” Charlie recalls. “I love Idaho and preserving its history is near and dear to my heart.” You can hear this love for history and tradition throughout Charlie’s work, from the imagery he recalls to the instruments he chooses to use.

In addition to the conventional guitar and banjo he selected for this tune, the distinctive twang you hear at the beginning of the song is from a curious instrument commonly referred to as the Jaw or Mouth Harp. The instrument is quite old, dating back at least 1,700 years, and can be found in an astounding number of cultures from Siberia to Italy to Vietnam and everywhere in between. Because of its prevalence, there are over 1100 recorded names for the instrument.
The jaw harp rose to prominence in America during the 1800s in Appalachia as an accompaniment to the fiddle and, later, the banjo. Many of the sounds, styles, and instruments we associate with American folk, bluegrass, country, and the innumerable genres they influenced have their roots firmly planted in this time and place.

While the 1800s marks the birth of what we would recognize as folk music today, its lineage can be traced back even further. The traveling minstrels and troubadours of the Middle Ages would sing their tales of famous heroes and legends. Their songs were often accompanied by an early stringed instrument like a lute or lyre. Going even further back, many cultures’ epic poems (like Gilgamesh or The Odyssey) were originally intended to be performed orally and sometimes with musical accompaniment.
Thanks to Charlie, the Idaho Heritage Trust is tremendously proud to make our own small contribution to the storied folk music tradition.

You can hear more from Charlie and his various music projects at
https://www.facebook.com/CharlieSuttonMusic/ and Charlie Sutton (charliesuttonmusic.com).

Charlie Sutton

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Ode to Idaho
Here are the lyrics to our catchy ode to the Gem State:

We’ve got the country’s deepest
River Gorge
Mountain bluebirds
And Potatoes galore

Sockeye salmon
Golden trout
What’s the name
of the place that I’m talking about?

It’s North of Utah
South of BC
We’ve got a lot of land
For a soul to be free

East of Washington
And Oregon, too
And West of Montana
And Wy-o-o-o-ming

People come to visit
Stick around
and stay

Well the name of the place
Is Idaho-oh-oh-ohh

Well the fish are always bitin’
The summer skies are blue
Man it’s so exciting
Many things that you can do

Lochsa big wood clearwater salmon
Ponderay red fish dwarshak dam
Old chief joseph was a noble man
Who fought no more forever here in his native land

Oh Appaloosa horses animals and wheat 
Hardworking folks in the sun and the sleet
Woodland caribou alpine lakes
We got grizzly bears and rattlesnakes

People come to visit
Stick around
and stay

When you get to Idaho
You never want to go

Cuz the fish are always biting
The summer skies are blue
Man it’s so exciting
Many things that you can do

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