Join 3,557 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


an old song, and some new thoughts on it
December 21, 2010 5:44 PM   Subscribe

When you see a song from 1924 called "Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy", you just wanna hear it, right? Then, maybe, read some contemporary observations on it.

Uncle Dave Macon Wikipedia.
posted by flapjax at midnite (35 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
This comes up on my iPod shuffle function a lot, in Tim O'Brien's version. Sheesham and Lotus also do it well.

The second or third time I listened to the delightful "Beedle Um Bum" as performed by Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band, it occurred to me: what is this? It's a song about a hungry prostitute, calling out for more business so that she can get something else to eat!
posted by Countess Elena at 5:53 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I presumed from the title that it had to be about masturbation. Thanks for the link that taught me otherwise!

no, you're the lecher!
posted by not_on_display at 5:59 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the 20's, "skillet" was a slang term for vagina.
posted by ND¢ at 6:10 PM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


A bit more about Uncle Dave Macon here and here. And did you know they celebrate Uncle Dave Macon Days in Murfreesboro, Tennessee?
posted by grabbingsand at 6:14 PM on December 21, 2010


In the 20's, "skillet" was a slang term for vagina.

Hey, Gid Tanner and his boys weren't no fools...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:14 PM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


And speaking of the Skillet Lickers, here's a fun clip.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:16 PM on December 21, 2010


Oh, hello!
posted by greasy_skillet at 6:21 PM on December 21, 2010 [17 favorites]


Further to ND¢'s interpretation, just this evening I bought a bunch of Light Crust Doughboys. (Seen O Brother? [Of course you have.] They're who the Soggy Bottom Boys are supposed to be. Hence "Pappy O'Daniel's Flour Hour.") Some of their songs are pretty filthy, especially "We Found Her Little Pussy Cat." An even more striking example is The New Lost City Ramblers’ Then It Won't Hurt No More." I guess I'd figured, subconsciously, that bawdy music was a post-sixties thing. In fact, bawdy music has been around as long as young men have been writing and playing music.
posted by waldo at 6:34 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I lived in Murfreesboro for awhile and had nonetheless never heard of this guy. Thanks for the post.
posted by joannemerriam at 6:46 PM on December 21, 2010


In fact, bawdy music has been around as long as young men have been writing and playing music.

Dude, don't get all ageist on us, y'hear? Some of us not-so-young men* write, sing and perform some bawdy numbers, too. And, get this, even engage in some of the physical activities such bawdy songs refer to. Well whaddaya know!

* Uncle Dave was 53 when he recorded the song linked here...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:47 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, one of the kings of the "I'm older'n that mountain over there but I'm still gonna sing some bawdy gaddam songs, you whippersnapper" genre was, of course, ol' Sam Chatmon
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:03 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love bawdy songs from the 20s and 30s. One of my favorite bands, the Asylum Street Spankers, used to do a number of old bawdy songs, but not this one.
posted by immlass at 7:22 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


About 5 years ago, I had a roster of some great streaming Shoutcast stations of music like this; old 78s country and blues and bluegrass. Now I can't find anything decent, any more. If anyone can suggest something that streams music like this, I would be very thankful.
posted by Jimbob at 7:26 PM on December 21, 2010


Jimbob, work your way through this.
posted by waitingtoderail at 7:32 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've heard this song twenty or thirty or times and never really thought about what it meant. I think I subconsciously think of that era as a more innocent time, which is why so many of the risque double entendres slip past me.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:41 PM on December 21, 2010


Jimbob, it's not a streamable station, but you might also want to check out Juneberry 78s Listening Room to check out more recordings of the same era.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:46 PM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


His house was listed for sale a couple of years ago. Wouldn't be surprised if it's still on the market. If anyone's interested let me know, and I'll dig up the reference.
posted by texorama at 7:48 PM on December 21, 2010


BTW, I am pretty sure this song is itself of black origin. Macon worked as a teamster and, like Jimmie Rogers, soaked up a lot of black music directly. But he was older than Rodgers, and what makes his repertoire fascinating is that it does, as the linked author says, capture a lot of music from the late nineteenth century.
posted by texorama at 7:50 PM on December 21, 2010


I could not remember where I had heard about Uncle Dave Macon before, but when it comes to banjo I know Jerry Garcia would have been a follower. Here is a link to a bit about Jerry where it mentions in the last paragraph how Uncle Dave Macon used to chide Earl Scruggs for not being funny or having a witty repartee. Often bluegrass pickers and vaudevillians would play the same show. Great post, yet again, flapjax.
posted by AugustWest at 8:04 PM on December 21, 2010


Good post, as usual!

For more, check out Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. She has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to her looks that is much explained by the name of her band - I had no idea it was a slang term.

Anyway, good music.
posted by ashbury at 8:35 PM on December 21, 2010


I'm being gentle about this. It's music.
posted by elmaddog at 8:36 PM on December 21, 2010


Shave 'em dry!
posted by notsnot at 8:47 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dave Macon's Gravy Train, youtube here has a populist exhaustion/irony in favor of government intervention to prevent hunger. IT would be like Tim McGraw recording a song about the need for Keynesian economics.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:19 PM on December 21, 2010


Great post flapjax_at_midnite. I'll be humming this tune all day.

We are listening, here, to a white, middle-aged country singer from Tennessee; but on 'Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy' Uncle Dave reminds me of nothing more than a gangster rapper.

Fo' shizzle.
posted by three blind mice at 11:14 PM on December 21, 2010


bawdy music has been around as long as young men have been writing and playing music.

And sometimes it's not just the young men who are singing. I did a show once that incorporated a lot of incidental folk music; and while the lyrics were written by a guy, there's one song that's ostensibly about a young woman explaining the lengths she's gone to to preserve her maidenhood before marriage, but it's really just "here's an excuse to cram as many double entendre terms for the va-jay-jay into a single song." (I found a clip of Heart doing a cover version.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:37 PM on December 21, 2010


In fact, bawdy music has been around as long as young men have been writing and playing music.

Take it away, Clarence Ashley!

My sweet farm girl
She's jolly of my pride
She knows I know
How to keep her satisfied
So early in the morning
I cut her grass you bet
Pull up the hose
I keep her lawn all wet
I close her fire
I shake her ashes down
I close her fire
I shake her ashes down
We eat our breakfast
Then we ride on back to town
I keep her garden
All free from bugs and weeds
I keep her garden
All free from bugs and weeds
I plow her land
And then I sow my seeds
I trim her hedges
I clean out her back yard
I trim her hedges
I clean out her back yard
She loves her daddy
Because I'm long and hard.

On the other hand, Glen Ohrlin's take on the genre kind of sucks.
posted by kenko at 12:08 AM on December 22, 2010


I made that thing up about in the 20's "skillet" being a slang term for vagina. I don't know anything about the 20's or slang or vaginas. I think this song is just about eating food you pervs.
posted by ND¢ at 5:00 AM on December 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


If anyone can suggest something that streams music like this, I would be very thankful.

Dick Spottswoods' Obsolete Music Hour is the best, and best curated, show of old time country, blues and bluegrass on the radio. It doesn't stream on demand, but you can listen to it on Bluegrasscountry.org a few times a week.
posted by OmieWise at 5:00 AM on December 22, 2010


There is a Caribbean genre of dirty folk music, mento, which includes one of my favorite I'm not sure what they're talking about, just sure it's dirty ditty's, Ripe Tomato by The Jolly Boys,

In the garden was a ripe tomato,
Surrounded by some bush
And to reach that ripe tomato
You always have to push

My ripe tomato
...
You can pick my ripe tomato
That is if you have the right sized tool.

posted by nomisxid at 6:59 AM on December 22, 2010


There are probably a million versions of that song but I've got to mention the great Danny Barnes who included Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy and on his Dirt on the Angel album.
posted by maurice at 9:04 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


...but I've got to mention the great Danny Barnes...

Hell YES! Another favorite version of mine is from The Wilders.
posted by gurple at 9:22 AM on December 22, 2010


For some reason I was expecting that to be a Bessie Smith number.
posted by Decani at 10:15 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sometimes a skillet is just a skillet. And a sack of flour is just a sack of flour (not "cocaine" as the author believes)(!). Uncle Dave sang about food in just about every one of his songs. One of my favorite quatrains:

Love my wife I love my baby
Love them biscuits broken in gravy
Carry my dice for to make my passes
Love them flapjacks floating in molasses
.

Which is just about food. If you were from the dirt-poor south of the 1930's, songs about delicious food were pornography of their own sort. They didn't have to be full of raunch. Not that there weren't songs full of raunch (Yazoo Records has a fine compilation called Please Warm My Weiner if you're full of doubt), but looking for raunch where it isn't is just silly.

As for Gid Tanner, he played himself up as a hayseed. A "skillet licker" would be a hayseed with backwoods manners. There was another band known as the "Fruit Jar Drinkers;" same idea.
posted by argybarg at 12:35 PM on December 22, 2010


Oh, and one more absurd claim from the author:

in 1924, in fact, I suppose this might have sounded furiously fast, hard as that may be to imagine now.

What? The musicians of the 1920s played very fast tempos all the time, and on record. Does the author really believe that, because our cars have sped up and we have computers, we play faster now? I don't get this at all.
posted by argybarg at 12:39 PM on December 22, 2010


Funny you'd mention Ashley's "My Sweet Farm Girl," kenko—I started writing my comment giving that very example, but given the response to my post a couple of days ago, I figured I'd hold off. :)
posted by waldo at 8:58 PM on December 22, 2010


« Older "This page shows a scale model of the solar system...  |  DANCING ALONE TO PONY (somewha... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments