"The Deadwood Stage" is the opening song from the 1953 Warner Brothers musical Calamity Jane
. Written by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster, it was performed by Doris Day (with chorus) in the lead role. The real Calamity Jane was poles apart from Day, whose wholesome screen image propelled her to box office super stardom.
Martha Jane Cannary Burke (1852-1903) was a frontierswoman and scout, among her other claims to fame. She lived in Deadwood, South Dakota for a time, and the reference in the song to "Injun arrows" being thicker than porcupine quills is no invention. On one occasion, while she was riding the stage it was attacked by Indians, and when the driver was killed, she drove it to Deadwood.
The last verse too is, sadly, grounded firmly in historical fact: "Set 'em up Joe, Set 'em up Joe, Set 'em up Joe"; Jane had a weakness for the demon drink, and this undoubtedly contributed to her early death.
Alexander Baron - London, England