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Little Jimmy Dickens turns 84

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Little Jimmy Dickens was born in Bolt, West Virginia on December 19, 1920. Happy #84!

Dickens is one of the great lost links between country and rock. He was country to the toes of his boots, but he had some rockin’ beats of varieties most righteous. This 4’11” bundle of power (I’m little, but I’m loud) made his name with joyous pre-Elvis honky tonk explanations of his impoverished background as the runt of the litter. “Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait” in 1949 and “Sleepin’ at the Foot of the Bed” in 1950 made him a name.

Then again, he could do the schmaltzy country recitative as good as anyone, notably the unbelievably morbid “Raggedy Ann.” You really have to hear it to believe.

He’s best known to the general public for the relatively late career top 20 novelty pop hit “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose” in 1965. What was most actually “novel” to me about the song is the way the whole point of the song is about what an unappreciative, tightwad jerk the narrator is.

It’s a rare thing for a pop song to set the narrator up so utterly and purposely unsympathetically. And it’s not the kind of confessional thing, like ‘Oh baby, I know I treated you bad and I apologize.’ This guy’s just a big jerk, knows it, and is proud of it.

It’s got actually an exceptionally good lyric, with several separate vignettes illustrating the point, such as the honest dry cleaner who called to tell him he’d found a $100 bill in his clothes, and was repaid exactly the dime he’d spent to call. Each of which leads to the elaborate curses of the chorus.

Thing is, that’s a righteous jam even if you didn’t speak English to understand the jokes.

Also, if you’ve never heard “Out Behind the Barn,” then YOUR education is not complete.

His name is not that well known now,but he was a big star of the Grand Ole Opry, and cool rockin’ daddies today still seek him out.

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