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Seems like I've heard that tune before...
February 4, 2012 2:55 PM   Subscribe

There’s Nothing Like a Good Old Country Song, whether it's The Great Speckled Bird, I Am Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes, The Wild Side of Life, or It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels. All I know is, There's a Grand Old Opry Show Playing Somewhere.

Here's a little background on The Great Speckled Bird's melody and its migration through country music.

Variants of this song by a whole buncha artists:

Kitty Wells' Great Speckled Bird
Johnny Cash's Great Speckled Bird, and an unplugged version
Bill Monroe's Great Speckled Bird
The Louvin Brothers' Great Speckled Bird
June Carter, Johnny Cash, and Pete Seeger (!) on I Am Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes, from the TV show Rainbow Quest
Marty Robbins' I Am Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes
Eddy Arnold's I Am Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes
Ralph Stanley's I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes
Hank Thompson with a later version of Wild Side of Life
Hank Williams' Wild Side of Life
Mickey Gilley's Wild Side of Life
Conway Twitty's Wild Side of Life
Rod Stewart's 1981 Wild Side of Life
Dolly Parton's It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels
Rosalie Allen's It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels
Patsy Cline's It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels
Skeeter Davis' It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels
Lynn Anderson's It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels
June Carter Cash takes a stab at brearking it all down for us.

In researching this post I also came across the darned interesting 60s/70s leftist underground Atlanta newspaper The Great Speckled Bird, which surely looks like it's worth its own post sometime.
posted by Miko (19 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thank you Miko!
posted by spitbull at 3:11 PM on February 4, 2012


Awesome! I love the Great Speckled Bird, even if I think it's basically one of the smuggest songs ever written. "But really she makes no mistakes," hmmph. Proof that a good song can triumph even when you disagree with it.
posted by COBRA! at 3:17 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can change the name of an old song
Rearrange it and make it swing
I thought nothing could stop me from loving you
But Time Changes Everything.

posted by darksasami at 3:29 PM on February 4, 2012


Thanks Miko
June Carter is so awesome.
Here is her doing comedy with her then husband Carl Smith and much later on, more comedy with Johnny Cash.
posted by dougzilla at 4:46 PM on February 4, 2012


There's a Grand Old Opry Show Playing Somewhere

It's streaming live, right now!
posted by timsteil at 5:12 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Love this kind of post. Thanks Miko!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:25 PM on February 4, 2012


timsteil, I am really thankful for that link. I actually had no idea you could stream the Opry, and not only that, but that radio station is just full of other fantastic looking shows like Americana Carnival and Ernest Tubb's Midnight Jamboree. Treasure trove, bookmarked like crazy...thank you so much!
posted by Miko at 6:16 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid in Illinois, I used to go in the basement on Saturday nights with four transistor radios, put them in the corners, tune them all to WSM, and listen to the Opry in "quad"
posted by timsteil at 6:32 PM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Great post, here I'm listening to Johnny Cash and June Carter and Mickey Gilley (quick—who were Mickey Gilley's cousins? Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggert; they all came up in the same small Louisiana town) and Hank Williams and Patsy Cline — I didn't know whan I picked up this laptop that I'd be listening to this tonight but there you have it, Metafilter in action.

Johnny Cash couldn't carry a tune in a bucket but his voice is carved onto my heart, he sang pretty much the first music I ever connected with, one of his earliest albums The Fabulous Johnny Cash was played in our house a lot; though we lived in Chicago, my oldest brother just flat-out loved horses, and had a few, and so Johnny Cash was not as outlandish in a 1959 Chicago house as it might otherwise have been. He got the hell out fast as he could and who could blame him, he joined the army the day out of high school, but that record stayed and played.

So I loved rock and roll but I didn't think country was weird as all my friends did, and I was an easy fit on the construction sites by the time I got on them in the late 1960s, and a fair fit with all of those guys coming up from Down South to build houses and hang sheetrock in them and roof them and talk funny and listen to all of these songs Miko listed blaring on those cheap shitty radios on the jobsites, WWJD out of Chicago.

These guys lived these songs, they truly did, they ate cheap speed and absolutely worked their fucking asses off and drank all night and ate more cheap speed and on and on, sending money Home if they had one, and they hung very closely together. I remember like yesterday, though it's been forty years and change, I remember the look of acceptance in the eyes of a skinny speed-freak named Seegar (Cigar, but pronounced See-gar) when I sat with everybody on break one day; I'd bought him a package of Swisher Sweet cigars, and gave them to him. I was in. Later — but not much later; blue-collar love don'cha know — I married a girl from a small town in northeastern Arkansas and the songs were in her, too, way deeper than they ever were or could be in me, no fault of mine, just different.

But I love it, I'm a visitor and I know it but I love it; a tourist can love, say, Paris, right, and eat a baguette or whatever, even if he maybe can't speak French with complete fluency, he can still sit on the river and enjoy the afternoon and flirt with the girls, same as regular people, and listen to the singers, and love the songs.
posted by dancestoblue at 6:48 PM on February 4, 2012 [14 favorites]


WJJD
posted by dancestoblue at 6:53 PM on February 4, 2012


Great post! now all the David Allan Coe fans have the links to reference the bridge on "if that ain't country."
posted by priested at 6:58 PM on February 4, 2012


Holy crap. We should close this thread just so dancestoblue can have the last word.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:02 PM on February 4, 2012


p.s. thanks Miko for a great FPP.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:03 PM on February 4, 2012


Well boy howdy! One would think your heart's out west... ;-)
posted by ecorrocio at 7:19 PM on February 4, 2012


Love those country gals, but I still love Kitty Wells version of "It wasn't god who made Honky Tonk Angels"....swoooooonnnn
posted by BeastMan78 at 8:24 PM on February 4, 2012


Go get a Goo-Goo -- it's good!
posted by Spatch at 8:43 PM on February 4, 2012


In researching this post I also came across the darned interesting 60s/70s leftist underground Atlanta newspaper The Great Speckled Bird, which surely looks like yt it's worth its own post sometime.

Jon Jacobs, as referenced in this post used to write for The Great Speckled Bird.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:08 AM on February 5, 2012


Also, this might be my favourite country song and I love all the versions and variants of it, but goddamnit if Roy Acuff doesn't look like the kind of Baptist minister who condemns his flock to hell at the same time that he's diddling the choirboys.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:12 AM on February 5, 2012


What a treat! Thanks, Miko.
posted by phrits at 5:29 AM on February 5, 2012


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