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Between the Earth and the Sky

Between the Earth and the Sky Marty Dixon

Witchi tai to, gimee rah
Hoe rah neeko, hoe rah neeko
Hey ney, hey ney, no way
Water Spirit feelin’ springin’ round my head
Makes me feel glad that I’m not dead
— Jim Pepper, “Witchi Tai To,” 1969

Jim Pepper, a Native American jazz-fusion artist of Kaw-Muscogee and Cree heritage from Oklahoma, wrote and recorded this song based on a ritual peyote chant that he learned from his grandfather. In the chant, the Water Spirit is patiently entreated to bring visions. The song was written during the late 1960s and performed during the late 1970s and early 1980s by a short-lived band called Everything Is Everything. Later, countless world music musicians did covers of it. In short, the ceremonial rhythms of his grandfather’s words combined with Jim’s saxophone arrangement translated well to many people on levels we are still trying to grasp.