In the wonderful film of Calamity Jane there are plenty of great songs. You would expect nothing less with the powerhouses of Doris Day and Howard Keel leading the cast!
But what are the best songs from Calamity Jane?
I think we can all agree there are no bad songs, so even the ones at the bottom I enjoy! But there are definitely some songs that are in a different class.
Based entirely on my own personal tastes and nothing more, which song will whip-crack-its-way to the top?
10. Hive Full of Honey
Francis Fryer’s (Dick Wesson) rendition of Hive Full of Honey is certainly memorable! Performing in drag (because the audience are expecting a female performer), Francis very reluctantly begins to sing. But after a few lines he starts to get into it and definitely begins to enjoy himself up there! That is until his wig comes off and the illusion is ruined…
It’s impossible not to smile when you watch this song and performance. For a minor song, it more than holds its own, although it is inevitably overshadowed by the bigger song numbers in the film.
Favourite lyric: “I’m not the glamorous type, but I’m the amorous type”
9. Higher Than A Hawk
Bill’s (Howard Keel) solo song about how much he loves Katie is not the most memorable. Mainly because he’s clearly destined to end up with Calamity! But aside from that, in my opinion it is one of the more forgettable tunes and is overshadowed by the more upbeat songs and by Secret Love- Calamity’s solo about love later on.
It’s also not one of Howard Keel’s best songs from the many that he’s done, but it does have some big competition! And let’s be honest, a weaker Howard Keel song is still enjoyable to listen to.
Favourite lyric: “I said that I would never fall, I laughed at others when they fell”
When you think you’re immune to love, then out of nowhere it comes and hits you- think we can all relate!
8. Keep It Under Your Hat
Another smaller number in Calamity Jane, but definitely underrated. This is Katie’s big chance to prove herself, and she sure takes it! She has a good voice, is a great dancer, and is so captivating to watch, especially as you can see she’s relaxed and having such a good time on stage.
Allyn Ann McLerie did a fantastic job, especially when you think this song comes between performances by the two very famous names of Doris Day and Howard Keel. McLerie more than holds her own and brings her own style to the show. and to the film as a whole
This song also shows that you shouldn’t try to imitate people and you should do what works for you. Katie tries to copy the way Adelaide Adams performs and failed miserably. But when she just sang as “Katie”, it was wonderful!
Favourite lyric: The song’s so short I don’t really have one, so I’ll say the dancing!
7. I Can Do Without You
I’m quite sad this has to be so low because it is a fantastically fun duet between Bill and Calamity. The similarities between this and Anything You Can Do from Annie Get Your Gun are unmistakeable but, although both are great, this one has the edge for me!
It’s great to see two screen legends- Doris Day and Howard Keel- go toe to toe in this song, and the physical elements of the song are just as entertaining as the tune and lyrics.. Tall and well-built Bill towers over Calamity in person, but Calamity can more than handle it. Despite their physical differences, in terms of singing there’s nothing to choose between them.
Also, although this song is basically each of them saying how pointless and worthless the other one is, it does show their chemistry and how well-matched they are!
Favourite lyric: “In the theatre you’re the ‘Boo!'”
Special mention to “In the ointment you’re the fly”.
Let’s face it, every line in this song is hilarious, but these are definitely some of my favourites!
6. A Woman’s Touch
This is another joyful song, sung by Calamity and Katie as they set up house. They clean up Calamity’s bare, untidy cabin to make it into a “shining castle built for two”, and it is unrecognisable from when they first began. The song manages to make cleaning and decorating look fun, so it deserves credit just for that!
Calamity and Katie really bounce off each other and have a great relationship which makes the song work even better. Some people say there are lesbian implications to this song (and the movie as a whole, including the song Secret Love), as Calamity and Katie set up house together, but whatever your views on this there’s no escaping that A Woman’s Touch is a fun, catchy song that you’ll struggle to get out of your head!
Favourite lyric: “A touch of paint, a magic nail, can turn this kitchen chair into a Chippendale.”
5. Secret Love
I debated if I should put the Oscar-winning song at only 5th on my list, but I couldn’t justify moving any of the others any lower!
It is a simple song, but a beautiful one. The lyrics are nothing fancy, but they are personal and heartfelt and really convey the joy and happiness that Calamity is feeling in that moment. Doris Day, of course, is sublime, and out of all the many versions of this song that I’ve heard, this one is by far the best.
Favourite lyric: “At last, my hearts an open door, and my secret love’s no secret anymore.”
So many feelings and all of them happy!
4. It’s Harry I’m Planning to Marry
I love this song, and it appeared several times in the film! My favourite version in the film is the one sung by Katie (Allyn Ann McLerie); I wasn’t so much of a fan of it when Adelaide Adams sang it. However, my favourite recording (added above) is the one by Doris Day and Howard Keel as I love that they are both singing in it, rather than it just being a solo.
It’s incredibly catchy and is all about loving someone, even if they are “as dumb as an ox” and “mentally superfish”! From the first moments of love to when they’re “old and decrepit”, this song has everything and is lots of fun to listen to and to sing along to.
Favourite lyric: “Though he’s built like a bust of Apollo, just remember a statue is hollow”
Wise words to live by here.
3. The Black Hills of Dakota
Like Secret Love, this is another slower song that is quite simple but still has an impact. They’re singing about their love for their little part of the country that they live in, and I love it as it really makes me feel drawn to home. I often listen to this song if I’m driving back to my mum’s house and it just makes me feel warm and happy inside!
The song starts with just Bill singing, then just Calamity, but when the others join in it really does feel like they’re sharing their love for home and this feeling is infectious! My favourite part is when it’s just Calamity and Bill singing- just beautiful and I wish it lasted a bit longer because it’s so relaxing to listen to.
Favourite lyric: “where the pines are so high that they kiss the skies above”
Nothing complicated going on here, but the image these words create is just beautiful!
2. The Deadwood Stage
I found it hard to separate the top two but it had to be done. An iconic song, The Deadwood Stage is fast-paced and really makes you feel like you’re heading on an exciting adventure! You can almost hear and feel the carriage winding its way along the roads. It’s joyful, full of energy, and is a perfect way to start the film, as it sets the scene and we get to see and hear Doris Day in full flow- nothing much can beat that.
It’s impossible not to smile and feel happy when you hear this song, and it’s basically law that you have to join in with the whip-crack-aways at the very least!
Favourite lyric: “Like a homin’ pigeon that’s a-hankerin’ after it’s nest”
Love this song, and love every lyric. But this particular one is much harder to sing that it seems, and is one of the great lines that make up a fantastic song!
1. The Windy City
The deserving winner out of all of these cracking songs. The Windy City is a joy to watch and listen to as Calamity tells all about her visit to the faraway city of Chicago.
It’s funny hearing her describe all these things that we took/take for granted, but at that time seemed so foreign and new to people living in more remote areas. Calamity is filled with amazement at some of the sights she saw, and the (again fantastic lyrics) convey her experiences in an amusing and entertaining way.
As well as being a treat for the ears, you also can’t take your eyes of Calamity throughout the song. She struts around, almost reenacting her visit, and does some dancing, and she brings so much energy to the performance that there was simply no beating it.
Both the Windy City and The Deadwood Stage are so much fun to sing along to, even though Doris Day most definitely did it better!
Favourite lyric: “press a bell and a moment later, up you go in an elevator”
Or, in the case of my office, press a button and what feels like a lifetime later, up you go in an elevator.
Do you agree with my ranking of Calamity Jane songs? Probably not.
If I look at this at a later date I too will probably disagree with my own ranking!
But one thing is clear, Calamity Jane has some incredible songs that you can listen to on repeat and never get bored of.
What’s your favourite song from Calamity Jane?