Dont Fence Me In is a popular American song written in 1934, with music by Cole Porter and lyrics by Robert Fletcher and Cole Porter.
Originally written in 1934 for Adios, Argentina, an unproduced 20th Century Fox film musical, Dont Fence Me In was based on text by a poet and engineer with the Department of Highways in Helena, Montana, Robert (Bob) Fletcher. Cole Porter, who had been asked to write a cowboy song for the 20th Century Fox musical, bought the poem from Fletcher for $250. Porter reworked Fletchers poem, and when the song was first published, Porter was credited with sole authorship. Porter had wanted to give Fletcher co-authorship credit, but his publishers did not allow that. After the song became popular, however, Fletcher hired attorneys who negotiated his being given co-authorship credit in subsequent publications. Although it was one of the most popular songs of its time, Porter claimed it was his least favorite of his own compositions.
In 1934, Robert Fletcher sent Porter his song, entitled Dont Fence Me In, which he had written at the suggestion of film producer Lou Brock, with the film Adios, Argentina in mind. Porter bought the rights, with the agreement that he would use the title, could re-work the lyrics if he chose, and could write his own music.
Porters revision of the song retained quite a few portions of Fletchers lyrics, such as Give me land, lots of land, breeze cottonwood trees, turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle, mountains rise western skies, cayuse, where the west commences, and hobbles cant stand fences, but in some places modified to give them the smart Porter touch. Porter substituted some whole lines, rearranged lyric phrases, added two verses, and composed his own music for it. (Porters exact verse about Wildcat Kelly was not included in any of the hit recordings of the song nor used in either of the movies in which the song was used. Roy Rogers did refer to Wildcat Willy when he performed it in 1944s Hollywood Canteen).
Ten years later, in 1944, Warner Bros. resurrected Dont Fence Me In for Roy Rogers to sing in the movie Hollywood Canteen. Many people heard the song for the first time when Kate Smith introduced it on her radio broadcast of October 8, 1944.
Dont Fence Me In was also recorded by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters in 1944. Crosby entered the studio on July 25, 1944, without having seen or heard the song. Within 30 minutes, he and the Andrews Sisters had completed the recording, which sold more than a million copies and topped the Billboard charts for eight weeks in 1944–45.
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