Aug 25, 2010

Great Speckled Bird, Beauty and the Beholder

Roy Acuff (1903-1992) was known as the King of Country Music. If you're in a hurry . . . why? But if you must skip ahead, the actual song begins a little beyond the one-minute mark.

YouTube - Roy Acuff - Great Speckled Bird

YouTube - A Female Guinea Fowl Call by farmingfriends.avi

About the photos: A farm in southern Indiana. I heard a sound and thought the car was breaking down. Then the flock appeared.

The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins writes, "Glory be to God for dappled things."

"The person who is widely credited with coining the saying in its current form is Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (née Hamilton), who wrote many books, often under the pseudonym of 'The Duchess'. In Molly Bawn, 1878, there's the line "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", which is the earliest citation of it that I can find in print." (

And this just in from Wikipedia: Guineafowl have a long history of domestication, mainly involving the Helmeted Guineafowl; in the UK they were usually known as "Gleanies". The young (called "keets") are very small at birth. The keets are kept in a brooder box inside the house until about six weeks of age, before being moved into a proper coop or enclosure. They eat lice, worms, ants, spiders, weedseeds, and ticks while on range or they can also eat chicken layer crumbles (one kind of commercial bird food) while housed in a coop. The cooked flesh of guineafowl resembles chicken in texture, with a flavour somewhere between chicken and turkey.

Keep reading. Quitters never win, and a winner never quits.

"The Great Speckled Bird" is a Southern hymn whose lyrics were written by the Reverend Guy Smith. The song is in the form of AABA and has a 12 bar count. It is based on Jeremiah 12:9, "Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour." It was recorded in 1936 by Roy Acuff. It was also later recorded by Johnny Cash and Kitty Wells (both in 1959), Hank Locklin (1962) . . . .” (Wikipedia).

The tune is the same apparently traditional melody used in the folk song "I Am Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes," originally recorded in the 1920s. The same melody was later used in the 1952 country hit "The Wild Side of Life," sung by Hank Thompson, and the even more successful "answer song" performed by Kitty Wells called "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels."

All four of the songs are in the Banjo52 Hall of Fame.

YouTube - Roy Acuff - Great Speckled Bird

YouTube - Marty Robbins I'm Thinkng Tonight Of My Blue Eyes



Pasadena Adjacent said...

If you were in Southern California and your car broke down in Arcadia, that flock of fowl would be called peacocks; the prettiest birds make the ugliest sounds. Unless, of course, they're Dolly Parton.

Anonymous said...

Hey PA, I love the mournful cry of the peacock. Yeeeeowwwwwwww.

When I lived in the guest house at the Kellogg estate, I'd let them in my hall when it rained. They were terribly polite and played nice with the dogs.

Ken Mac said...

why does this make me hungry?

Banjo52 said...

Maybe everybody has a peacock story?
Purty bird, ugly voice = the balance of nature?

Too much time in those Greenwich Village diners, Ken. Somebody get him a tofu burger.

PJ said...

Guinea fowl are hilarious and listening to Gene while thinking about them makes me laugh. (I hope you don't mind this) Nervous Nellies

I can hear peafowl from time to time, they're on a farm near here and I think they're beyond beautiful. I'm not a fan of Alice Walker's fiction but she has a great essay about the peafowl on Flannery O'Conner's estate and I ate lunch in the Holiday Inn she talks about so I could try to get a feel for what she was conveying.

We also have a resident rooster that roams. They used to let the hens run loose but not anymore. I miss them. They were great entertainment and they ate lots of bugs and such.

Banjo52 said...

Paula, that's a fun link (is that the word?) to your Nov. post. I'm surprised I don't remember it--I think I was visiting by then.

You must be farther out from the city than I'd realized.

Will bamboo grow in Michigan?

PJ said...

Bamboo will grow anywhere if you have the right kind. I would give anything to grow the big mountain bamboo which is something you might be able to do in your cooler clime. My bamboo wall is in the middle of a great growth spurt, it's actually giving me chills. Be sure and look for the clumping kind.

PJ said...

And I meant Roy, not Gene.

Anonymous said...

I know. My bamboo scares me. I have some Oldhamii, but it's not giant yet. (I lie to the neighbors and tell them it was already here when I bought the house. This in case it invades their yard.)

Brenda's Arizona said...

Cool bamboo, Paula! Now I want to know more.
You should do a post on peacocks poetry, Banjomyn.
Or on guinea fowl.

PJ said...

I have to wrangle a tall ladder to get a good shot of my "wall of bamboo" made of two varieties. I'll have to look up the names. I wish I had gotten some with thicker stalks but the idea was shield us from the neighbors who don't take care of their home and it has certainly done that.

PJ said...

I looked up Oldhamii and I think I have some of that. Mine is clumping and it shouldn't be too much of a problem for neighbors, it's the drooping branches that they could complain about and if they trimmed them back I wouldn't mind.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

the peacocks cry reminds me of the ghosts of artist who have died in some downtown hotel, alone and forgotten.

I want me some of that clumping Oldhamii.

Banjo52 said...

Good lord, somebody should start an entire blog about bamboo. Oh, wait, I bet there are several already.

I've seen several about banjos. (But they don't mix it with poetry and The Collins Kids).

Lovers' Lane