Thursday, January 21, 2016

Quit Kickin' My Dog Around: A Reedy Remix!

We received some interesting and enlightening information from Dick Spottswood in response to our most recent updates that included a digitized recording of one of the Reedys' versions of the song, "Quit Kickin' My Dog Around." It turns out that this song was originally written as a political campaign song in 1912, and John wrote new verse lyrics of his own that he and Frances recorded a couple of different times. 

According to the Fresno State Folklore webpage, the words and music of the original "Hound Dog Song" were apparently written by Webb M. Oungst and Cy Perkins respectively, and it served as the campaign song for popular presidential hopeful James Beauchamp "Champ" Clark from Missouri. Dick also shared this 1926 version of the song recorded by Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers, entitled, "Ya Gotta Quit Kickin' My Dog Around":

We paid close attention to the lyrics of the song, and the verses are definitely different from John's. We love that the humorous howling and barking were part of earlier renditions of the song. We are still partial to John Reedy's lyrics and delivery of his remix, but we are glad to learn that the "hound dog song" has a fascinating and varied history of its own. 

Since we recently shared an excerpt of John's 1961 Christmas eve interview, we decided to post another excerpt of the VHS video recording that Harold Reedy made of his parents' last documented performance together. This charming and humorous rendition of "Quit Kickin' My Dog Around" shows Frances teasing and covering for John when he forgets his own version of the lyrics! However, he doesn't let this glitch keep him from hamming it up anyway. At the end, he dedicates the song to Harold's dog Mac.

Thanks again to Dick Spottswood for his active interest in our research project and providing such helpful connections. We are also grateful that he has included some Reedy tracks on his WAMU radio show in Washington, D.C. We whole-heartedly agree with his sentiments that "Frances & John were the greatest!"
(23 Jan. 2016 10:30 am)

We received another interesting tidbit from Dick Spottswood in response to this post. He sent a link to the 1912 sheet music of the song with the original verse lyrics for Champ Clark's presidential campaign. We always love hearing from other folks about the Reedys and related musical knowledge and artifacts.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Holiday Memories & New Year Updates

Happy New Year! The year 2015 was difficult in some ways, but it was also fruitful in others. The holidays are always a time when we think about family, and we spent some time researching historic traces of the Reedys again this year. So far 2016 shows promise of productivity, and we have some updates to share about some new media memories, recent findings, and news about upcoming developments.

Over the holidays, we talked about how many family memories that the Reedys documented around that time of year. We've previously posted a video of Frances and John singing "Little Sparrow" from an excerpt from Harold Reedy's VHS video recording of their last documented performance together during Christmas in 1980 as well as our "Holidays with Frances" video documenting the family dinner and Timi's birthday celebration for Thanksgiving 2005. While working on another project that we'll discuss more at the end of the post, we remembered a reel-to-reel recording that Timi's grandfather John Reedy made of the family Christmas celebration in 1961 when they were still living in Dayton.

The tape includes a couple of interviews that John conducted with different family members as well as a couple of song performances. The first interview is with Junior Fields, John's nephew by his sister Cledia. He asks Junior about whether he likes living in Ohio better than Kentucky, and an interesting conversation takes place. We previously mentioned this recording but had never posted it, so we decided to share it in light of its timeliness and relevance to scholarly discussions about Appalachian migration.


While researching additional references to the Reedys, we recently found some new audio and bibliographic sources that fill in some gaps in the Reedy commercial discography, which we have updated as a result. One key discovery is the digitized copy of Frances and John's 1964 recording of "Quit Kicking My Dog Around" (Jalyn 210) on the Bopping blog of various vinyl treasures. This is a really important find for us because the Jalyn 210 recording is one of the few (of their many) that we did not have a copy of from Frances' collection. The post features "Harmony duets in Hillbilly bop songs" and describes the song as a "fine uptempo tune" with "amusing lyrics." Unfortunately, we were not able to figure out how to embed the audio directly in this post, but the track can be accessed by clicking the link above.

Front CoverThe Bopping post does not include the B-side of the record, which is one of their versions of Frances' song "Tiny Bitty Pieces." However, we did discover a reference to the song on page 1757 of the July-December 1963 Catalog of Copyright Entries for music. The entry misspells her name as "Francis," but the October 22, 1963 copyright credits her with writing the song's words and music.

Front Cover

We found a similar reference on page 77 of the The Complete Library of American Phonograph Recordings for 1963 that clarifies the release date for one of the recordings on the Reedy commercial discography. The entry is for the Starday SEP 222 by the "John Reedy Trio," which we previously had listed in the general range of the early 1960s. We have corrected this entry on the Reedy discography and plan to contact folks who maintain other Bluegrass discographies and databases as well. The track-list for this EP, or "extended play," recording is not included in the entry, but it includes two songs on each side of a 45 rpm vinyl record.

Earlier in the fall, we found an entry for John's song, "Knockin' on Your Door" on an online Bluegrass lyrics database called BluegrassNet, which listed the song as a "traditional." We posted a comment letting them know that the song was written by John to Frances when they were briefly divorced. I also shared the breakup mash-up of "Tiny Bitty Pieces" and "Knockin' on Your Door" and a link to the documentary blog. 

We recently discovered that they replied to our comment and corrected the author information! "This is great info, Tammy. Thanks for sharing. I love hearing the back stories to these old tunes. The old video of Frances and John in 1980 was awesome! I've updated the credits on these lyrics to reflect John Reedy's authorship. Thanks again." It's always great when we are able to connect with other people who are interested in documenting and preserving music by artists like Frances and John Reedy.

We engaged with this material over the past couple of months while we have been writing an invited journal article about the documentary project and process. We will share more about this forthcoming publication when we have more details, but we are excited to have some new developments for everyone to look forward to...

Finally, we want to wish Frances and John's son Tim Reedy a very happy birthday today! We hope he enjoys the day with the rest of his family as well as the new updates we've shared.