Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday Thunderbird Jam: Chubby Parker- King Kong Kichie Ki Me Oh(1928)

This week the Thunderbird Jam is Chubby Parker's 1928 recording of “King Kong Kichie Ki Me Oh” found on Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music. A derivation of the classic folk ballad “Froggie Went A- Courtin” (a whimsical ballad about a Frog proposing marriage to a little Mouse) this song is perhaps the most fun song in the world to start a sing along of. Trust me, I've done it. A LOT.

Chubby Parker was an Indiana born working man. Working as a patent clerk, electrician, and all around inventor extraordinaire, music was not his first calling. He played the banjo like a champ though and appeared on a Chicago radio program called National Barn Dance. His distinctive, high-pitched voice and simple, straightforward strumming caught on with Mid-west listeners and he soon became a staple of the program.

While “Froggie Went A-Courtin” is rather ubiquitous in the Anglo folk tradition (the oldest known version is from 16th century Scotland), Chubby's version includes a whistling bridge and a non-sense chorus chock full of alliteration. The chorus is so fun in fact, it was sampled by Mickey Avalon for his raunchy hip-hop hit “What Do You Say?” included on The Hangover soundtrack. Chubby's version also changes the traditional narrative of the song. Instead of focusing on Froggie and Ms. Mouse's wedding supper and all the Hollow Tree animals in attendance, he sings about the violent battle Froggie wages in order to win Ms. Mouse's hand.

Froggie rolls up to Ms. Mouse's door packing mad heat (a sword AND a pistol) and right in the middle of proposing to her, all these other fools roll in the door (3 or 4 at least) and Froggie has to mow them all down to prove his love for Mousie. Needless to say, it's a pretty terrible night in Hollow Tree. Anyhow, Ms. Mouse is super impressed (who wouldn't be?) and agrees to marry Froggie right away and they live happily ever after, even having some little half frog/half mouse children.

Banjo. Whistling. Personified Animals. Swordfights. Marriage.
All the elements of a great folk song. They sure don't make 'em like they used to.

No comments:

Post a Comment