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Steve Martin tells the real story of Paul Revere

Steve Martplays with Steep CanyRangers Thursday Owensboro Ky. He’ll perform “Me Paul Revere” with Rangers “A Capitol Fourth” 7 p.m.

Steve Martin plays with the Steep Canyon Rangers on Thursday in Owensboro, Ky. He’ll perform “Me and Paul Revere” with the Rangers on “A Capitol Fourth,” 7 p.m. Monday, WTTW-Channel 11. | John Dunham~AP

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Updated: July 1, 2011 2:13AM

More than 30 years ago, Steve Martin immortalized King Tut in song. Now he has paid lyrical homage to another historical figure, Paul Revere.

The only difference between the tunes?

“One is accurate,” says Martin, 65.

(You mean King Tut wasn’t born in Arizona before moving to Babylonia?)

The actor/comedian/writer/musician will be performing the just-released “Me and Paul Revere” with bluegrass band the Steep Canyon Rangers on PBS’ annual “A Capitol Fourth” special (7 p.m. Monday, WTTW-Channel 11).

Told from the point of view of the patriot’s literal sidekick — his horse, Brown Beauty — it’s the “REAL story of Paul Revere!” as Martin tweeted Wednesday. Unlike, say, comments about ringing bells and firing warning shots uttered a few weeks ago by a certain potential presidential contender.

But Martin is generous when it comes to parsing Sarah Palin’s remarks.

“On one hand, it’s actually quite accurate,” says Martin, who based the facts in his song on Paul Revere’s Ride, the 1994 book by Brandeis University historian David Hackett Fischer, which he read several years ago. (During the height of the Palin hubbub, Martin tweeted something relatively sympathetic to some of what Palin argued, that the Boston silversmith warned the British: “Paul Revere did not warn that ‘the British are coming,’ because all the citizens WERE British. There was no America yet.”)

Still, he’s staying away from any partisan nitpicking.

“My song is a historical song, not a political song,” he says. That said, if it inspires people to delve deeper into the country’s revolutionary past, he’s thrilled. The true story is “actually just as interesting as the mythological history of Paul Revere’s ride.”

Martin is on tour with the Rangers, promoting his bluegrass album “Rare Bird Alert.” He’ll have company for his PBS gig, including Jordin Sparks and Matthew Morrison from “Glee.” Though he’s not an avid watcher — his wife, writer Anne Stringfield, is — “I’d be on it in two seconds,” he says. “I know it’s a fabulous show.”

Gannett News Service

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