SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Sing a Song of Old Ketchikon



May 06, 2014
Tuesday PM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska -
A while back, a perceptive reader emailed me.

“So Dave, you seem to know everything about Ketchikan. And what you don’t know you just make up.”

jpg Dave Kiffer

Well, I’m not so sure about that last bit but he was right about me knowing everything!

He was curious about whether or not Ketchikan has its own song.

Of course that got me cogitating.

Yeah, yeah. I can hear both of you readers out there saying “everything gets him cogitating. Anything to be doing anything other than real work or making the world a better place. He’d just rather be sitting around playing with his brain, or whatever that dense object is that’s holding his ears apart.”

I was once accused to be a great big black hole when it comes to cogitating. Everything nearby gets sucked in and nothing remotely illuminating ever comes out.

But I digress.

Anyhoo, I have been asking around to see if there is any sort of anthem to Our Fair Salmon City. Surely, somewhere in Ketchikan’s relentless past, someone must have come up with something?

Naturally, I went to the only unimpeachable source out there, The Internet!

First of all, at least according to YouTube, there are more songs about Ketchup, than there are songs about Ketchikan. Go figure.

And there is even some sort of website that proclaims “Hire Frank Sinatra Impersonators in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.” Natch, I clicked on that site and it noted that the nearest Frank Sinatra Impersonator to the Ketchikan Gateway Borough is actually in Kasaan. Really?

At any rate, back to the subject at hand.

There was a video called Lonely in Ketchikan, but all it was a video about Ketchikan set to a song that has nothing to do with the First City. And besides, I’m not sure that repetition of the words ‘buzz kill” is quite the proper tone we want to be adopting here.

A band named Quilt recorded a song called “The Silver Stairs of Ketchikan.” Which I immediately assumed was related to the famous (at least in these parts) Richard Brautigan poem of the same name.

After listening to it three times, I still can’t quite make out the lyrics because they are an under-recorded drone which is pretty much covered up by the over-recorded drone of the background music.

Now, you all know how much I love it when the band covers up the @#@$#$&$%^@ singers! But this was even too much for me.

And since I didn’t hear the legendary (at least in these parts) Brautigan line “Dark and Prowling Deer” I have to assume the song was about something else.

There was another video on You Tube, featuring a song about Ketchikan. Appropriately enough it was called the Ketchikan Song, and is by the renowned (in more parts than just here) Matt the Electrician. The audio is pretty poor, but it mentions the Bridge to Nowhere so it must be about Ketchikan.

Speaking of that Dave Rubin once wrote a song about “Nowhere Men” that I really liked (of course, I was one of the Nowhere Men!). But that still doesn’t quite qualify as an official Ketchikan song.

Back in the 1950s, there was song circulating called “Ketchikan: King of the Salmon.” While several old-times clearly remember the song, no one seems to remember how it went or what the words were. Probably just as well.

Chaz Staunton recently wrote a song called the “Ketchikan Song” which she and the Island girls performed at the Monthly Grind. Something about some driver who was a “jerk” who drove through a puddle and splashed the people walking on the sidewalk. That’s as good depiction of Ketchikan as I can think of. And the refrain of “Aint Nobody Gonna Make Me Leave” definitely captures the stubbornness of the average local Wethead.

Years ago read about a local glee club performing “Ketchikan, oh Ketchikan” back in the 1930s. Unfortunately those words are also lost in the dustbin of history.

Probably something along the lines of “Ketchikan, oh Ketchikan, you’ll do good here, you Betcha-kan.”

So I had to keep looking. And boy did I eventually strike gold.

I was trolling through the Disney Archives (AKA Vault Disney!) and I came across a long lost bit of Disney Literature that never saw the light of screen or theme park. It was called “Song of the Southeast” and featured such fascinating characters as Uncle Einar, Br’er Crabbait and the Skunk Cabbage Baby.

The lyrics were particularly appropriate to Our Fair Salmon City and the tune itself was later appropriated to another Disney production: Song of the South(not east).

Currently you can hear the melody ad nauseum at Disneyland as you float round and round and round on a lovely saccharine high on a ride featuring singing geese, frogs, possums and other critters.

Eventually, the cut out log you are riding in suddenly goes careening over a 53-foot waterfall and everyone screams.

And that, my fellow First Cityers, is Ketchikan in a nutshell.

Anyway, here goes:



My oh my what a condensate day

Plenty of rainfall, heading my way


Drip-a dee-day

Mr. Rainbird’s on my shoulder

It’s the truth, it’s actual

Everything is liquifactual

Plenty of monsoon, heading my way




On the Web:

More Columns by Dave Kiffer

Historical Feature Stories by Dave Kiffer


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2014

Publish A Letter in SitNews         Read Letters/Opinions

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2014
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska