Lonesome Onry and Mean: Memories of Hank Sr.'s "Kaw-Liga" and "The Old Grey Goose Is Dead"
There is some dispute in LOM's family about what our first favorite song was, but as best we can determine and agree, it was "Kaw-liga" by Hank Williams. That Native American drumbeat just put my young head on the warpath, and the tempo shift on the chorus always made me happy as Hank moaned on about "poor old Kaw-liga, he never got a kiss." Hank Williams was LOM's idol and several of Hank's hits are like part of our DNA, particularly "Lovesick Blues" and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." This all took place in the early '50s, when we were about three years old, before Elvis Presley dropped the rock and roll bomb on the world. Remembering this and rehashing it with LOM's dad led me to poll some of our musical acquaintances about their favorites from their formative years.
One of the most interesting replies so far comes from one of Lonesome, Onry and Mean's favorite songwriters, Randy Weeks. Born and raised in Minnesota, Weeks says his earliest song memory is of the French children's traditional song that goes by two names: "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" or "The Old Grey Goose Is Dead."
While its history is murky, its authorship is often attributed to French philosopher/writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau sometime in the 1770s. Weeks is a master of darkness and occasional violence in his songwriting, and, according to his message, he was drawn to "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" because "that's rough stuff, you know, gonna grind her into sausage and all that."
David Allan Coe's version on his 1974 classic The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy is a great one. Here's a link to one of the lengthier versions of the lyrics.
Come back later in the week when we'll lay out more of these earliest influences from people like Jesse Dayton, R.S. Field, and numerous other folks in Americana.