Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I enjoyed your recent column regarding Roy Acuff and others who recorded “The Wabash Cannonball.”

Now I'm hoping you can answer another Roy Acuff-related question, one about his signature song, “The Great Speckled Bird.”

Exactly what is the Great Speckled Bird? Is there actual mention in the Bible of this bird, as the song indicates?
—Lawrence R. Anderson, South Bend, Wash.

DEAR LAWRENCE: First, for those not familiar with the song, here are the first two verses:

What a beautiful thought I am thinking
Concerning a great speckled bird
Remember her name is recorded
On the pages of God's Holy Word

All the other birds are flocking 'round her
And she is despised by the squad
But the great speckled bird in the Bible
Is one with the great church of God.

In the New International Version, I find at least one mention of the speckled bird. We turn now to the Book of Jeremiah, Chapter 12, verses 8 and 9:

“My inheritance has become to me like a lion in the forest
She roars at me, therefore I hate her.
Has not my inheritance become to me like a speckled bird of prey that other birds of prey surround and attack?”

As for an interpretation as to the meaning of the speckled bird, that will have to come from the theologian of your choice.

DEAR JERRY: You are one in a million if you can solve my musical mystery, which pertains to a song I liked as a child in the mid-'50s.

I was once positive the title is “Charlie Brown,” but now I'm not so sure that is correct. Regardless, it is definitely about a character named Charlie Brown, and is a novelty-type recording.

Naturally, everyone I ask about this R&B tune immediately thinks I am referring to the novelty song by the Coasters, also titled “Charlie Brown.” That is not the one I seek.

Please help me!
—Julie Dalton, Lakeland, Fla.

DEAR JULIE: Is it odd there would be two completely different R&B novelty tunes titled “Charlie Brown,” but we can sort this out for you. Surprisingly, both groups have names beginning with a “C.”

Your “Charlie Brown” is a 1956 release (Capitol 3310) by the Cues. This one is about an aspiring young horn player.

The Coasters hit, about a classroom clown, didn't come out until 1959.

So now I am officially one in a million — but one WHAT in a million?

DEAR JERRY: One of my favorite acts of the '60s is Peter & Gordon. I know Peter Asher went on to become a successful record producer, but whatever became of Gordon?
—Robert Scott, Milwaukee

DEAR ROBERT: After their string of hits petered out (sorry, couldn't resist), in 1967, Peter and Gordon continued to record for Capitol for another year or so. They disolved the duo in late 1968.

Gordon Waller then had a few solo singles along with one cleverly titled album in 1972: “And Gordon” (ABC 749). Gordon also pursued acting, playing the part of Marty the Hippie in the 1969 film, “Twinky,” which starred Charles Bronson and Susan George (as Twinky).

In '73, Waller won a role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's “Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.” Working in front of the camera, acting, as well as in the studio, writing and arranging original film music, is where Gordon would be found in recent years.

Making the Hollywood commute is much easier these days, now that southern California is Gordon's home. He does, however, return to England two or three times a year to renew old acquaintances.

IZ ZAT SO? When “A World Without Love” hit No. 1, in late June, 1964, Peter & Gordon forever claimed the distinction of being the first British artists to top the American charts after the Beatles.

After them that year came the Animals (“House of the Rising Sun”) and Manfred Mann (“Do Wah Diddy Diddy”). 1964 is clearly the year of the British Invasion, but only those four UK groups reached No. 1 on the singles charts — and only the Beatles managed to top the LP charts.

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