June 14, 2010

"Wow! Jimmy Dean. He was pretty cute when he was young!"

What I exclaimed, after seeing that Jimmy Dean had died and Googling "Jimmy Dean" and seeing this...



... and it took me a couple seconds to recover from the dazzle of male beauty and realize the essential stupidity of Google.

What I was really looking for was the old TV show, "The Jimmy Dean Show." What passed for entertainment in 1964:



Was Rowlf the Dog the original Muppet? He was the first Muppet star!

I remember watching that show. I don't have much to say about Jimmy Dean. He seemed like a nice man — I've heard otherwise, but I won't pass the story on. He's dead. Here's a piece about whether, now that Dean's dead, Dean's song "Virginia" ought become the Virginia state song:
Virginia is one of the few states that has no official tune. It's been without one since 1997, when the General Assembly retired "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia," because its lyrics were deemed racist. 
"Deemed racist"? "Virginny" was "where the old darke'ys heart am long'd to go."
The state has repeatedly tried to choose a replacement, notably by appointing a 12-member committee that sifted through 400 suggestions and whittled them down to eight finalists.

One of those finalists was the appropriately titled "Virginia." It was a ditty played for legislative committees by its composer, song-writer and Varina resident Jimmy Dean.
Is the song any good? I can't find an on-line video rendition of it, and apparently neither could the author of the linked column. There's video there, but not of the song "Virginia." It's a video of Jimmy Dean singing his hit song "Big Bad John." Which he didn't write. (It's by Dean and Roy Acuff.) [CORRECTION: Dean co-wrote the song. Somehow I managed to read "Dean and Roy Acuff" as referring to Roy Acuff and some other guy named Dean Acuff! Ha.] And it's a big, big song. I love it. I listen to it every time it comes on "60s on 6" (my favorite satellite radio channel). Go listen to it. I don't think there's a better storytelling song. 

Do I have to mention the sausage too? (NSFW:)

45 comments:

edutcher said...

He was also Ed Ames' replacement on 'Daniel Boone'.

I think you're right about Rowlf being the original Muppet; I don't recall any others until the 70s.

Ann Althouse said...

It's a video of Jimmy Dean singing his hit song "Big Bad John." Which he didn't write. (It's by Dean and Roy Acuff.) And it's a big, big song. I love it. I listen to it every time it comes on "60s on 6" (my favorite satellite radio channel). Go listen to it. I don't think there's a better storytelling song.

A lot of early 60s songs are on the 50s channel. The cutoff they use is the emergence of the Beatles, so, if you remember the music of the Kennedy administration, you are missing some good stuff.

As to best storytelling, Harry Chapin's 'Taxi' is pretty stiff competition.

New said...

He was in the Bond movie, shot in Nevada. He had the best lines.

chuck b. said...

Things worked out better for Fancy.

Comrade X said...

Rock on.

t-man/wurly/henry buck said...

I would recommend Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" for Virginia's state song.

CatherineM said...

The sausage complaint call is awesome. Opie and Anthony played that a few years ago and again this morning in honor of Jimmy Dean's passing. "I'm a Texas man...my wife's a little plump..."

Sheepman said...

Go listen to it. I don't think there's a better storytelling song.
How about "A Boy Name Sue" or "Harper Valley PTA"?

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

That sausage complaint was hilarious. He didn't even mention using it for gravy.

Story songs--What about "A Boy Named Sue"?

MadisonMan said...

For story-telling songs, how about Ode to Billy Joe?

danielle said...

is that a real complaint ? that seems almost too funny to be real.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

I think he was in a Scooby Doo episode, too.

Toy

virgil xenophon said...

I'm old enough to remember him appearing live on TV circa 1956 on the old CBS "Morning Show" with Jack Parr as host (before he became famous on the NBC"Tonight Show ") with Charles Collingwood as sidekick/news-caster.


(I always thought that for non-specialty, national chain, super-market fare, his sausages were about as good as one could get)

Robert Cook said...

I remember the Jimmy Dean show...I was a kid and wasn't usually up late enough to watch it, but I did see it or parts of it somewhere along the way.

You say of this clip that it "passed for entertainment in 1964." Well, I thought it was still pretty entertaining. It's quiet, slow pace and gentle humor was appealing and certainly preferable to much of what has followed in its wake.

(While one's first impulse might be to think that featuring a Muppet on a prime-time variety program seems quaint, or corny, or square, it was 11 years later than this clip that Saturday Night Live premiered...with Jim Henson's Muppets among the regular featured players on the program.)

Ann Althouse said...

The sausage thing is The Jerky Boys. Don't you remember The Jerky Boys?!

Robert Cook said...

I realize "it's" is not the possessive "its." Doh!!

Big Mike said...

Kermit was the original Muppet, and the first Muppet star.

A.Worthing said...

on the other hand, if you turn off safe search, and google "jimmy dean sausage" you get alot of, um, horrible results (or maybe great results, depending on your p.o.v.)

former law student said...

I think you're right about Rowlf being the original Muppet; I don't recall any others until the 70s.

The first Muppets I saw advertised Kraml Milk. But they originally sold Wilkins Coffee, in the late 50s (no Kraml milk commercials available online):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruauJdQlXAg

msspurlock said...

I was distantly related to Dean, but only saw him a few times. He had a booming voice and when he welcomed you, everybody knew it. He seemed to listen to everyone's point of view, but get him talking about Hippies or bad drivers and he got fierce. Maybe that's where the "other stories" come from. Hippies who got on his bad side while running America down.

dbp said...

Baja? I haven't got anything in Baja!

El Pollo Real said...

Althouse wrote: Go listen to it. I don't think there's a better storytelling song.

Mega Dittos Althouse. And I didn't know that Roy Acuff helped write it.

Kinda broad at the shoulder, narruh at the hips...

Christy said...

I googled Megan McCardle's new husband and was presented with an image of McCardle and Matt Welch from BHTV.

I remember, in addition to "Big Bad John," the song "Skip a Rope." Haven't a clue what it was about.

Aparently he was a savvy business man. I'd always figured he was just paid for the use of his name.

edutcher said...

fls may well be right about Muppets in advertising (sounds like a bit on the show), but they may have been only local, created for a specific spot and possibly never used again. I think Rowlf may have been the first one used nationally.

New said...

He was in the Bond movie, shot in Nevada. He had the best lines.

'Diamonds Are Forvever'.

WV "entable" What's beside the bed with all the stuff you knock over in the dark.

Cedarford said...

"It's a video of Jimmy Dean singing his hit song "Big Bad John." Which he didn't write. (It's by Dean and Roy Acuff.)"

If he co-wrote it, doesn't that mean he is a writer???

Fred4Pres said...

Perhaps James Dean did stage that car accident so he could pursue his love of promoting pork products.

former law student said...

Google says Dean also sang (the ballad of) PT-109. I wonder when that came out?

former law student said...

cf -- apparently just writing the lyrics doesn't count.

Sixty Grit said...

I used to watch Sam and Friends back in '57 or so, maybe '58, done by Jim Henson, and it had puppets, such as Wilkins, who might be considered the prototype for Kermit, and Wontkins, the puppet who wouldn't drink Wilkins coffee (the sponsor of the 5 minute long show) and one puppet that could eat things - maybe the original Cookie Monster. Rowlf, in the mid-60s was no where near the original Muppet.

former law student said...

We were not aware the Muppets had names. A typical commercial:

"Willkins": Do you like Kraml Milk?
"Wontkins": No.
*Willkins fires cannon, blows Wontkins' head off.*

raf said...

fls: apparently just writing the lyrics doesn't count

If he wrote the lyrics to BBJ, he essentially wrote the song. Not much tunifying going on there.

raf said...

wv: imene. As in, I mean "tunification."

J Lee said...

Rowlf was the first Muppet to get Jim Henson national attention, since before then his shows were more regional and based in the Washington, D.C. area (before you had Rowlf with Jimmy Dean at night, you had Kermit with Willard Scott in the morning -- want some Smuckers to go with that pork sausage?)

HT said...

Tennessee Pride still the best.


Meanwhile, back on the ranch ...

For the sake of saving time and drilling costs on its ill-fated exploration well, BP took "shortcuts" that led to the oil spill disaster that will end up costing the oil giant billions of dollars in cleanup and compensation costs, according to a letter from two House Democrats who have been leading an investigation of the spill.

Ann Althouse said...

"It's a video of Jimmy Dean singing his hit song "Big Bad John." Which he didn't write. (It's by Dean and Roy Acuff.)" If he co-wrote it, doesn't that mean he is a writer???"

Oh! I swear I read that "Dean" as being Roy's brother or something! Ha ha. Will fix.

Ann Althouse said...

Like... Dean and Roy, the Acuff brothers.

thefewandtheplenty said...

I have never forgotten Jimmy Dean's "Virginia" because...well, it's the most forgettable song I ever heard.

As a budding radio reporter I covered the story of a new Virginia anthem and assumed Jimmy Dean, no matter what he submitted, would get his song in. Cause he had the political connections and he was on the goshdarn committee!

But the song was just so...blah. It sounded like he wrote it in less time than it took to sing it. I remember thinking "This is the Platonic ideal of a song you should forget. Of a song with nothing to say"
Ok I'm not up to the task accurately conveying how boring this song is. I may have it somewhere. I'll post it somewhere if I find it.

Cedarford said...

"Ann Althouse said...
Like... Dean and Roy, the Acuff brothers."

OK, Althouse. Though you can understand that many readers inferred you meant Dean, working with Roy Acuff.
AFAIK - Dean Acuff was far less famous than Roy Acuff.

But all that was well before my time, and it was only recently with Google I knew certain songs were Johnny Horton's not Deans.

former law student said...

Roy Acuff had two brothers, neither named Dean, according to the history of Fountain City, TN website. Roy's dad was a lawyer -- and a minister -- and a judge.

If anyone wants to register at www.acuff.org, they could research the elusive Dean Acuff.

Neill Acuff, was born in Maynardville on April 16, 1877. He served as postmaster, "read" law, became a member of the bar and was elected to the office of County Court Clerk. He became an ordained Baptist minister. Sometime after he moved to Knox County, where he felt his children would have better opportunities for an education, he became a general sessions judge. Neill married Ida Carr, daughter of Dr. A.W. Carr, a Union County physician. Neill and Ida had five children: Briscoe (1900-1984), Roy (1903-1992), Sue (Mrs. Robert Allen, Jr.) (1905-1963), Claude (Spot) (1909-1971) and Juanita (Mrs. H.D. Phillips) (1917-1981).

former law student said...

I'd like to point out that this far west of the Mississippi, Jimmy Dean's breakfast sausage is the only one readily available. Although if I'm going to the Midwest in the late summer I will buy some Tennessee Pride for Thanksgiving stuffing.

HT said...

It's the best, fls!

Charlie said...

On at least one occasion, Roy Acuff "appropriated" a song and added his name to the songwriting credits ("Wreck On The Highway"). I wonder how much of "BBJ" he "wrote?

Kev said...

When I was in college marching band, they invited about half our band (the whole thing wouldn't fit on stage) to play peppy songs for some sort of corporate banquet in downtown Dallas. Jimmy Dean was the guest speaker for the event.

It's common for a speaker to have a little fun at the musicians' expense, so one of the first things Jimmy did after thanking the band was to make a crack about the fact that the band was playing dinner music, but the musicians themselves didn't get to eat. What he may not have realized was that he was absolutely correct--we got to watch everyone else eat and didn't get fed ourselves! For those of us who lived in the dorm, we left for the gig before the cafeteria opened for dinner and didn't get back until after it closed. (Some Jimmy Dean Sausage would have really hit the spot at the moment.)

I should point out that a few crafty souls among us didn't leave totally hungry; we managed to snag a pudding apiece off a dessert cart being pushed by a server who spoke little or no English and obviously decided we were dessert-worthy.

amba said...

LOVE "Big Bad John." It reminded my husband of his incredibly strong and silent best friend who dug him out of a coal mine cave-in when they were young prisoners in the Soviet Union. Jacques then escaped and didn't know for more than two decades whether his friend had survived or not. The song used to mess him up bad.

(Yes, his friend had survived and they were reunited and saw each other many times.)

Mr. Bingley said...

It is interesting that the "deemed racist" anthem was in fact written by a black man who was born in 1854 to a free family in NY. Quite an interesting background, really.

Beldar said...

The Jimmy Dean Sausage processing plant is in Dean's hometown, Plainview, an aptly named but pleasant enough place on the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle, just on the other side of Lubbock from my own hometown.

And I'm here to tell you, that guy making the complaint is a candy-assed poseur. EVERYONE knows you plan on one 12-ounce package for every two diners. That's still none too generous -- the cooked sausage patties weigh much less.

Now he did have a point about the weirdly spiced varieties. But the extra hot variety is well worth your attention, as it will open up your sinuses (let's not think about what it does to your arteries).