Song #2: “Somba K’e”

Overview: I’m embarrassed to admit it, but the idea for “Somba K’e” (for those of you from the South, Somba K’e is the ı̨chǫ word for Yellowknife) came from a lover’s quarrel I accidently overheard while sitting around a backyard cookout in Edzo. A few houses away, a couple was arguing loud enough for half the neighbourhood to hear. I remember her angrily threatening him:”You better watch out or I’m gonna tell everyone what kind of man you are!” He responded by saying: “Yeah? Well I’m gonna go to Somba K’e and show you what kind of man I am!” (his response essentially became chorus of this song). To this day, I have no idea who they were, what precipitated the argument, or if either of them ever divulged any scandalous information. However, I did learn two things: 1) sometimes all it takes to inspire a song are a few words said in a certain way, and 2) sound carries easily in Edzo, so be sure to keep your voice down.

Composition: This song from the early 2000s (2003?) is a straight-forward country rocker. It has the same laid back beat you’d hear in an Eagles song like “Take it Easy” or “Lyin’ Eyes.” Getting a solid grasp of this rhythm and style is a must for playing in Northern country bands, so it came naturally to me at that point in my life. The melody is basic and the chords are open and easy to strum. As for the theme, it’s typical of so many songs. If you think of “Jackson” (Johnny Cash/June Carter) or “Big City” (Merle Haggard), the notion of running off to an urban centre to escape your circumstances seems to be a universal idea.

A view of Yellowknife (Somba K’e) from Pilot’s Monument.
Lyrics: "Somba K'e"

Gotta get you out of my mind
Get away and leave you behind
My eyes are wakin’ and my hands are shakin’
I see you but I’m no longer blind

We’ve let it go on too long
Now I can see it’s all wrong
It’s all so fake, there’s no give and take
Together baby we don’t belong

I’m on my way out of here today
I’m gonna be free
I’m on my way to Somba K’e
To be the man I know I can be

I’m losin’ all my lovin’ for you
Gotta go and get over you
I’ll do the walkin’, you do the talkin’
I can tell we’re already through

I’m burnin’ all your pictures tonight
I’m hurtin’ like hell all the time
We won’t be friends, baby, in the end
What you done to me ain’t right

I’m on my way out of here today
I’m gonna be free
I’m on my way to Somba K’e
To be the man I know I can be

Personal Connection: Despite the fact the song is called “Somba K’e,” it reminds me of those easy-going, fun summers spent in the backyards of Edzo telling jokes and playing music. I can remember the good laughs and great food. I moved to Edzo in 1998 and lived there for over fifteen years – lots of enduring friendships were formed in those days.

A view of Yellowknife from the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre.

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