ODDiTTiES ☆ Kate & Anna McGarrigle ☆ with additional notes about the songs.

Posted September 11th, 2010 by Anna

Go to Outside Music’s page and type in Odditties in the search box on upper left. Thanks. The cd will soon be available, April 2011, in the UK and Europe. Watch for news of it.

itunes link for ODDiTTiES

I’m cutting and pasting from the last blog yet my fingers are not sticky.
Odditties is: a few Stephen Foster songs, but not the versions that are already out on cd, a couple of Wade Hemsworth tunes including Log Driver’s Waltz but different from the animated film by JF Weldon, some vintage Kate and Anna, a lullaby for a doll, a studio version of a Cajun tune we used to do live, a very old live version of A La Claire Fontaine from 1976 and lastly an early 70s living-room demo about a lost cat called Louis. The music goes on.
Said the Gramophone Sean Michaels’s music blog about Louis the Cat.
And this NY Times article mentioning the Log Driver’s Waltz.

Some background on ODDITTIES.

Kate and I were famous for not touring. Our foray into the music business coincided with the births of our children so we kept long distance travel to a minimum though we did make it to Hong Kong and Australia in the mid-80s. To satisfy the creative urge we’d spend lots of time and money recording demos for projects, some unrealized. One of these was the great Stephen Foster biopic idea that Kate, Dane, Janie and I pitched to PBS back in 1987. We wanted to cast Jeremy Irons as the dissolute composer. We knew some Foster songs from our youth, Gentle Annie and Ah! May the Red Rose, but we needed to beef up the repertoire. Bob Borgen, who works for the L.A. Kings Hockey franchise, and his wife Minako have been great supporters of ours and they found us the Foster Civil War songs, Was my Brother in the Battle? and Better Times Are Coming. These 4 songs are all demos that were never released and in some cases are sweeter than the ones that did make it out there. Rufus is playing tambourine and singing on Better Times.

In about 1978, our friend John Weldon, an animator with the NFB, asked us to record Wade’s Hemsworth’s Log Driver’s Waltz which he was about to animate for the NFB Vignette Series that ran on CBC/Radio-Canada through the 80s. Most Canadians know us because of John’s really funny film. The version of Log Driver on Odditties was recorded a couple of years later when we were doing music for a documentary. Kate sings the melody on the verses which is the way we used to do it and I pick it up on the choruses. Gilles Losier’s fiddle puts it in the dancehall. Wade H. was a friend of Peter Weldon’s and Jack Nissenson’s with whom we sang as the Mountain City Four. He was the first songwriter we’d ever met and most famous for the Black Fly Song. Hard to believe he also wrote My Mother is the Ocean Sea, it’s so different, and must be his most beautiful composition. It’s in 5/4 time. Wade claimed this was the rhythm of the rolling ocean. To make it simpler for us to understand, he said count 1-2-3-1-2. We eventually caught on. Joel Zifkin’s violin and Danny Greenspoon’s guitar rock us gently on the waves while Jody Golick’s sax warns us about icebergs. Kate’s vocal is particularly beautiful and we all sound like sailors on the big chorus.

Kate wrote Lullaby for a Doll about little Martha, herself a doll, but a little doll that wouldn’t go to sleep like the other dolls. I remember Kate saying that when Martha was born, Martha’s whole life flashed in front of her. The image of a small child, herself with children and having a dentist, a doctor, to monitor each call, seems unsettling. A baby girl is born with all the eggs she’s ever going to have (in one basket), like the egg-chain in a chicken. Ah! the inevitability of it all. Joel and Kate produced this track. The late Scot Lang is on guitar and bass.

A la claire fontaine, Pollack Hall-McGill U.1976, with Chaim Tannenbaum on harmonica, was always our last encore. Often friends and family, my husband Dane Lanken, Peter Weldon, sistra Jane, later all the kids, would join us onstage for this old French folksong made famous by Madame Emma Albani, an internationally known star of the Opera, who was from Québec. Our mother Gaby told us that her father’s cousin Camillien Houde, Montreal’s most famous mayor aka Monsieur Montréal, also used to sing it to Gaby’s piano accompaniment. She said Houde had a lovely voice. One more thing about our mother Gaby. She played the violin in the Bell Telephone Orchestra. Things were different back in the 30s. I wonder if there’s a recording of this outfit. In the late 60s Kate decided to take up the violin and she glued the bridge on Gaby’s violin with crazy glue. It was crooked and had to be sawed off. The violin was lost along the way.

As Fast as my Feet Can Carry Me, from 1990 with Kate playing amazing piano and Pat Donaldson picking the bass like an automaton, a real power-couple, and You Tell me That I’m Falling Down were mainstays of our live shows when we had a drummer. Gordon Adamson is pounding them on As Fast and Gerry Conway is on You Tell Me That.. The band members could let loose on these two numbers and the songs were often set closers. The first of these I co-wrote with Chaim Tannenbaum, the other with Caroline Holland. You Tell Me That I’m F D was covered by Linda Ronstadt in 1975. Our version is from 1979. Andrew Cowan plays the guitars on both these and Chaim leans in with his mandolin for You Tell Me…Andrew described his guitar on As Fast as My Feet as sounding like a ski organ, whatever that is.

We learned Parlez-nous à boire from Louisiana’s Balfa Frères and worked it up for the stage. This studio version is from the early 80s with Kate on banjo, Gilles Losier on fiddle and feet and Andrew C. on guitar, Pat on bass and me on piano and accordion. Janie might also be singing on the chorus.

In 1973, I was working for a store-front lawyer on Wellington and Charron in Pointe St Charles, a working-class area in downtown Montreal, made famous by David Fennario in Balconville. I was leaving the store one night when this skinny little girl came up to me and offered me a kitten. I’m seriously allergic to cats but I couldn’t refuse. I’m sure the family didn’t have enough to eat themselves. The diet down there was baloney and beer from the convenience store. There were no supermarkets. I took the cat home and Dane and I named him Louis and doted on him as if he were a child. He was quite stupid but very charming. When he disappeared 9 months later we were inconsolable. We cried for 3 weeks. My friend Audrey Bean helped me write and sing Louis the Cat. We recorded it in my living-room on on old Sony 2 tr. The following year Audrey and I wrote Cool River which was recorded by Maria Muldaur in 1974.

Some of Kate’s and my happiest times were spent in her living-room singing and playing with our wonderful musician friends. It had become quite a spiritual pastime, especially in the last ten years, like praying without asking for anything. With eyes closed we’d listen carefully for what the others were doing. Kate would set a frailing groove on her banjo, I would find a drone part on the guitar, Joel would do a double-stop thing on his fiddle with a delay effect, Michel Pepin would rock the cradle in the bass end. Then we’d add the voices. Martha and Lily were there and sometimes Chaim was too, on harmonica and mandolin. Once Kate invited a percussionist called Ganesh to sit it. I’m pretty sure we reached Nirvana.

96 Responses:

  1. Anna says:

    December 14th, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Hello Robb,

    At the moment, Odditties is available on CD in Canada only. I’m trying to find distribution in other territories. The music biz has changed. It’s everyone for himself. Some who are not in Canada seem
    to be buying it from Amazon.ca and having it shipped. Apparently it’s less than buying it at other amazon sites even when you factor in the cost of shipping. The distribution company is Outside Music
    in Toronto. outside-music.com
    I don’t know if they sell directly on the site.
    I hope this info helps. Thanks for your interest.

  2. Anna says:

    December 14th, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    That’s interesting. Not sure how NPR got a hold of it. Kate may have given it to someone. There is a living-room recording of Rufus, Martha and Kate doing D’ou viens-tu bergere. It’s from the early 80s I think. It will be up to Rufus and Martha to release this. I’ll mention it to them and maybe they know where the song is.



  3. Anna says:

    December 14th, 2010 at 7:46 pm


    I’m still looking for a distributor for Odditties in the UK, US, Europe and OZ/NZ. Times have changed. Pronto Monto is owned by Warner Bros and they’ve never released it on CD. I’ve asked to license it but it’s unlikely they would let me as I’m not a full-on label. I don’t know why it can’t be available as a download, for that matter, Dancer with Bruised Knees. There is a deluxe edition of our first recording, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, slated for release at some time in the near future. Warners would include a disc of some early demos in this package.


  4. Anna says:

    December 14th, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Yes. Kate made a demo of songs in 1971, a couple about her life in Saratoga Springs, NY. It was sent to Warner’s but she didn’t get signed at that time. Rationale was there were too many women singer-songwriters playing piano…Carole King? We’re hoping some of these songs will end up in the deluxe edition Nonesuch is planning of Kate & Anna McGarrigle (1st record.)


  5. Anna says:

    December 14th, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    I’m not sure I know what recording you’re talking about. The 80s were not a good time for us. Couldn’t get killed but that didn’t stop us from writing and recording in studios we couldn’t afford. How can I find out?
    We did copyright things and probably sent a tape to the LofC. Would love to hear it.


  6. Anna says:

    December 14th, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Yes. Rhino was going to release our 3 Warner records + demos. We never really got back to them. Too much stuff going on. Then Kate died and Nonesuch has stepped in to re-release a deluxe of the 1st record only with early demos. Not sure what is going to happen with Dancer and Pronto. They hold the cards.


  7. Anna says:

    December 14th, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    I have another compilation I’m working on. All the songs were done to a drumatix drum machine. We started slowly sorting the tracks about 2 yrs ago. It was to be called Songs of Roland. Soon.

  8. Anna says:

    December 14th, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Was my Brother in the Battle is much more beautiful on Odditties than on Songs of the Civil War. It was the demo we sent to get the gig. I have suffered from demo syndrome my whole life. Kate too.

  9. Anna says:

    December 14th, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    remember afghan coats? back when afghanistan was just another destination for drug users…

  10. Anna says:

    December 14th, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    sin skin and bone

  11. Anna says:

    December 14th, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    available on cd in canada only for the time being.

  12. Anna says:

    December 14th, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    available on cd in Canada only for now.

  13. Campbell says:

    December 15th, 2010 at 12:07 am

    I see what you meant about spam.
    You have every right toulouse temper
    Thought webspam governed by Treaty of Lowtech
    Perchance ’tis I who be sans compos.

  14. Peter says:

    December 15th, 2010 at 2:38 am

    Calm down now Anna and relax with a cuppa, its only technology.

  15. Riemer Sijens says:

    December 15th, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Dear Anna,
    Thank you so very much for making Odditties available to us/to the world. It’s beautiful. “More, more!!” is what I think when I listen to it (“over & over”) but I’ll just remain humble as this is already fantastic.
    I ordered my copy last Wednesday through Outside Music and already received it last Monday. Fantastic service as I live in the Netherlands and shipping went superfast. Thanks Dennis !

    I saw you and your sister (and family) a few times over here, those were really great events. I regret (forever) that I wasn’t able to attend the London Christmas show at the Royal Albert Hall last year.

    By the way, are you all aware of the (Dutch) Kate and Anna radio recording from 1976 that you can still listen to online ? It’s here:


    Kindest regards,


  16. Michael says:

    December 15th, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    I ordered my copy of “Oddities” from amazon.ca and received an email yesterday that it’s going to be shipped in April 2011. Strange indeed! But I guees it’ll be worth waiting …

  17. Anna says:

    December 16th, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Someone commented just a few comments back that they went to the outside-music.com site and ordered directly. It arrived within days and he’s in Holland.

  18. Campbell says:

    December 16th, 2010 at 10:37 am

    It’s MORE than worth waiting for.

  19. Peter says:

    December 16th, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    I just had an email off Amazon Canada, they are shipping again. Great value,

  20. Campbell says:

    December 20th, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Amazon in Canada has started shipping.
    Huzzah !

  21. Michael says:

    December 25th, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Yes! My copy arrived on Christmas Eve here in Winter Wonderland (Germany) – perfect timing! Happy Holidays everybody!

  22. jane says:

    January 7th, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    At last, my copy has arrived here in Oz, joy!
    It seems we always want more I guess? To hear more of our favourite sisters …
    Anna thank you for your notes and for sharing such special memories. Please keep singing, jamming and also please keep blogging! There are so many of us around the world who have been moved and inspired by your music. peace and love to you all.

  23. Phillida Hayward says:

    January 10th, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Hi Anna

    I am in the UK and ordered Oddities from Outside Music on 28th December, it arrrived today, in spite of all the postal problems and new year holidays. People certainly don’t have to wait until April to get it here. What a beautiful album, I am loving it. Fabulous harmonies and it will get played A LOT!


  24. Ruth Saltzman says:

    January 17th, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Dear Anna
    Ordered Oddities Dec. 22; what with Holidays and Snowstorms, my CD only arrived this past Friday. Such a balm, as my body and mind were by then re-membering the loss of Kate just one year ago. I am so grateful.

  25. Alexander says:

    February 2nd, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Dear Anna,

    I also ordered around the 20th of December at Outside Music. Due to European customs it took 3 weeks until the CD arrived – what a fine album! I love it!

    a fan since my times working in a record store in Munich, Germany in the early eighties.

  26. oldfolkie says:

    February 21st, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I just got my copy this morning and am going to pop it in the ‘puter right now.
    No problem at all ordering it from Amazon.ca and getting it sent down here to the States.
    It only took 5 days from order to delivery to get here.
    Bye, now.
    It’s time for some good music.

  27. Dirk says:

    February 24th, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    It DOES make sense to check your homepage from time to tome. I’m thrilled and delighted and thankful for itunes (I couldn’t have waited for much longer than the download time).
    All the best from Switzerland:

  28. Duer McLanahan III says:

    March 7th, 2011 at 5:14 am

    I always adore listening to your 1st album, Kiss & Say Goodbye, My Town, Tell My Sister, Complainte Pour St. Catherine. I love Andrew Gold’s lead guitar: amazingly bright chorus sound fills and flourishes. I also love Steven Gadd’s drumming throughout. Talk to Me of Mendocino. All the songs are gems of musicianship, instruments and harmonies in every moment.

    1) What’s the order in which you, Anna, and Kate respectively learned how to play the many musical instuments you play?
    2) What instruments did your father teach you each to play?

    I hope you received my 3/5/11 “Reply.”

    Tonight I loved watching Complaint for St. Catherine on YouTube with Kate on squeezebox, Anna on piano, electric guitar, fiddle, great harmonica—an altogether wonderfully cohesive musical blend.

    Best regards, love, exemplary health to you all,
    Duer McLanahan III

  29. Maria says:

    March 23rd, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Thank you so much Anna for releasing this; just ordered it on amazon and cant wait to hear it. I was blessed to see you and Kate perform many years ago at the Bottom Line. I still remember all you in your pajamas. One of the best, most authentic shows I’ve ever seen.

  30. CAPAC » Særheder fra Kate & Anna McGarrigle says:

    July 10th, 2011 at 7:45 am

    […] bekendt er Kate McGarrigle ikke mere. Men, som Anne skriver på deres fælles hjemmeside: The music goes on. Medens vi venter på et bokssæt med duoens lille, men fornemme produktion, så […]

  31. Milo says:

    December 29th, 2011 at 9:57 pm


  32. Offshore Banking Seychelles says:

    August 2nd, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    Thanks, awesome web log.

  33. Z Code System says:

    August 4th, 2013 at 5:00 am

    Thanks for finally talking about >ODDiTTiES ☆ Kate & Anna McGarrigle ☆ with
    additional notes about the songs. <Liked it!

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  35. Denise Walsh says:

    August 7th, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Thanks to our wonderful world communications and your generous sharing
    I “found” the McGarrigle sisters in their early days and now, in my 80th year, I’m trying to get both Oddities and the latest tribute albumn.
    Australia is a long time away but I lived in Montreal in the mid 70’s.

  36. Joop Horsten says:

    May 10th, 2014 at 6:02 am

    Dear Anna,

    I collect the wonderful music of you and kate since a couple of months, I am totally blown away by your heavenly voices, anytime again when I listen to your records !

    I am searching for the Oddities-cd but unfortunately I can’t find it anywhere ??

    Please tell me how I can buy one ? Or even more beautiful send me one, tell me how much it costs.

    Thanks very much.

    Musical regards,

    Joop Horsten
    Zoeteind 9
    5502 PM Veldhoven
    The Netherlands

  37. Sophie says:

    June 8th, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Hi Anna,

    I’ve been searching for the Oddities CD everywhere for my mother for her birthday. I’ve been searching two years for it. I’ve had it on order at HMV for almost a year now, still no news. I’m in Montreal, so I thought it would be easier to get my hands on one. The copies you had ordered in 2010 must be all sold. Are you thinking of having more ordered? Thanks so much!

  38. Karen says:

    September 28th, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Hi Anna, I listened to your group’s performance of the song “My Mother is the Ocean Sea” on youtube, and it is transcendentally wonderful. I want so much to buy a recording, but it’s not available for purchase anywhere I’m aware of.

    Please consider making it available somehow.

    Thanks for your lifetime of inspiring music-making

  39. Anna says:

    October 6th, 2014 at 8:38 am


    The studio version of My Mother is the Ocean Sea is on Odditties with the same personnel. The youtube video is the property of the Winnipeg Folk Festival and I haven’t heard of any plans to release this song on a compilation. I’ll look into it though.

    Thanks for your interest.


  40. steve says:

    February 3rd, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Hello Anna,
    I watched “Not so Silent Night” last night, so, so wonderful. I loved the shirt Lily had on, a McGarrigle shirt from “Love over and Over”. sure wish they were available to buy. Also, so happy to hear “you Tell me that I am falling down” and “Fast as my little feet” on Oddities. We had a mutual friend Anna, Robert Bower, who was the kindest person I know. I met him in the 1970s standing on line for one of your shows. We remained friends until his passing and often attended your concerts together. I actually found out about his passing from your website… He never spoke much about his illness. He is missed ever time I listen to Leonard Cohen or the McGarrigles.

  41. Elvis Delgado says:

    June 12th, 2015 at 10:37 am


    On December 14th, 2010, you wrote, “I have another compilation I’m working on. All the songs were done to a drumatix drum machine. We started slowly sorting the tracks about 2 yrs ago. It was to be called Songs of Roland. Soon.”

    Four-and-one-half years on now, is there anything to report? I am surely not alone in my eagerness to hear this!

  42. Michael Rimmer says:

    July 7th, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    Hi guys I hope you can help me I have been looking In vain for the banjo tablature for foolish you and have been unsuccessfull,I have tried different site for folk and traditional music but to no avail please could you help me as I love this particular track

  43. Bill Kaval says:

    July 9th, 2018 at 1:07 am

    Anna McGarrigle

    Dear Ms McGarrigle,

    Hello. I am a retired police lieutenant (U.S. Capitol Police), 75 years old, married, 4 kids, 8 grandchildren and living in Waldorf, Maryland. AND a big fan of your music, yours and your late sister, Kate. I also lost my sister in 2007, lung cancer, so I can relate.

    Anyway, main reason why I’m writing this. I’ve purchased all your CDs and have two favorite songs of yours that I play everyday and know by heart, “I Eat Dinner” and “Why Must We Die.” Super songs. The Best! And my request to you is can you recommend any of your songs that are in the same subject manner as my two favorites so hopefully I’ll have and can add to my music playlist. Any suggestions, please.

    Your reply would be most appreciated. Thank you for your time and consideration.
    And thank you for your music.

    God Bless,

    Bill (Kaval)

  44. Steve Coates says:

    July 3rd, 2019 at 11:33 am

    Dear Anna

    Are there any thoughts about a second volume, even if it’s an mp3 only release on Bandcamp?

    Was a studio version of ‘The Shining Birch Tree’ ever recorded? I was fortunate enough to attend the Victoria Palace show in July 1976 and this was one of the highlights of that show for me. I could have sworn that Kate said that you planned to record it but perhaps I’m remembering what I want to remember. Anyway it was a wonderful concert with an abundance of heart and an absence of artifice. I know there’s a nice version of the song on the CBC ‘Songs of Wade Hemsworth’ broadcast.

    All The Very Best,


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  46. Dave says:

    August 8th, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    Any chance “The Pony Song” that appears in Caroline Leaf’s documentary will make it onto a second volume of Odditties? If not, perhaps the song can be shared on this website. Thanks.

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