Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: From my high school years, which puts it in the early '60s, I recall a very humorous record about a big-talking skier who really didn't ski much but hung around the ski lodge and bragged about his slope adventures, mainly to impress the girls.

I only heard it a time or two on the radio, so I'm guessing it was not a major hit. Still, I have a vivid memory of laughing when it came on. It seems it fell into the hootenanny category at the time (how did they come up with the term “hootenanny,” anyway?)

I have nothing more in the way of clues, but I have followed your column for many years and have seen you work wonders with less information that this. Please work your magic for me.
—Rhonda Page, York, Pa.

DEAR RHONDA: You have, in fact, provided even more details than needed to solve your musical mystery (which means I can't make any cracks like “help me Rhonda,” etc.).

Even without the time period it would have been obvious that the tune is “Super Skier,” a 1962 single by the Chad Mitchell Trio (Kapp 439).

You may recall in “Super Skier” the hilarious line about the careless downhill skier who hit a tree “and two one-legged skiers went from there.”

“Super Skier” is the B-side of the record, the hit side being “Lizzy Borden.” Both tunes came from one of the Trio's live concerts.

As to the derivation of “hootenanny,” let's just break it down. “Hoot” is an onomatopoeia, a word chosen to indicate, in this example, the sound an owl makes. A “nanny” is, of course, an au pair.

Therefore, a hootenanny is merely a hip way of saying an onomatopoeia au pair. I hope that clears that up.

DEAR JERRY: The Band has a song with lyrics that sound like they're saying “take a load off Granny or Danny

Can you tell me the name of the song?
—Ray Baine, Wausau, Wisc.

DEAR RAY: This is one of those odd vocals, like “Pledging My Love,” where one would never know the exact title by listening to the lyrics. This song is named “The Weight” (Capitol 2269) and it is either Fannie or Annie, not Granny or Danny, that is mentioned.

I say either or because there is no difference to the ear between "off Fannie" and "off Annie." Most printed lyrics for "The Weight" tend to go with Fannie rather than Annie.

We also hear mention of “Miss Fannie” — which could also be spelled Fanny — near the end of the song.

Just to fuel the controversary, there is another line about “staying and keeping Anna Lee company.”

Could there be more than one woman in the picture: Anna (a.k.a. Annie) AND Fannie?

Despite not selling particularly well when issued in 1968 — reaching only No. 63 — “The Weight” is now considered a “Classic Rock” standard. It is from the Band's first LP, “Music from Big Pink.”

And since someone is bound to ask, the Big Pink is a three-bedroom Catskills mountain retreat, located in Saugerties, N.Y. There, Bob Dylan and the Band wrote and rehearsed dozens of songs in the '60s.

The last we heard, Big Pink sold to a Los Angeles buyer who planned to turn it into a Dylan-Band shrine of sorts.

What's it Worth? Get fast appraisals by e-mail!

DEAR JERRY: As one who has obviously followed popular music for a long time, what do you see as the most noticeable difference between now and in the golden age of music.
—Kevin Hawley, Paducah, Ky.

DEAR KEVIN: You don't say exactly which period you consider the golden age, but from my perspective the answer is simply this:

In the 1950s and '60s, and to a lesser extent, the '70s, everyone I knew listened faithfully to the radio to learn all of the new tunes. In recent years, I know of very few who rely on radio for this purpose. Most radios I encounter are set to stations with either oldies or talk (including sports) formats.

IZ ZAT SO? The boys in the Band — Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, and Richard Manuel — all played with Ronnie Hawkins, as his backup band, the Hawks.

Hawkins is best known for the hits “Mary Lou” and “Forty Days,” the last mentioned being a remake of Chuck Berry's “Thirty Days.”

It is still not clear why Ronnie allowed his girl an extra 10 days to get back home before sending out a worldwide hoodoo.

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