Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafesonny

Post to this Thread - Printer Friendly - Home
Page: [1] [2]


Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?

DigiTrad:
BLUE EYES
GREAT SPECKLED BIRD


Cappuccino 12 Mar 02 - 08:58 AM
wysiwyg 12 Mar 02 - 11:30 AM
TJO 12 Mar 02 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,redhorse 12 Mar 02 - 06:03 PM
SharonA 12 Mar 02 - 06:35 PM
Dicho 12 Mar 02 - 06:41 PM
Jeanie 13 Mar 02 - 03:17 AM
Cappuccino 13 Mar 02 - 04:43 AM
Dave Bryant 13 Mar 02 - 06:35 AM
gnu 13 Mar 02 - 08:18 AM
WyoWoman 13 Mar 02 - 08:40 AM
Dave Bryant 13 Mar 02 - 08:53 AM
GUEST,C Brown 11 Feb 11 - 05:12 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 11 Feb 11 - 06:11 PM
Amos 12 Feb 11 - 11:43 AM
GUEST 04 Apr 11 - 06:33 AM
GUEST,Seth 30 Jul 11 - 12:48 PM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Jul 11 - 10:25 PM
GUEST,Desi C 31 Jul 11 - 10:19 AM
Mark Clark 31 Jul 11 - 01:09 PM
GUEST 31 Jul 11 - 02:19 PM
GUEST,greg 08 Aug 11 - 04:17 PM
Mark Clark 12 Sep 12 - 05:56 PM
Arkie 13 Sep 12 - 12:43 PM
Henry Krinkle 08 Dec 12 - 08:07 PM
GUEST,Big Al Whittle 10 Dec 12 - 02:22 AM
Dave Hanson 10 Dec 12 - 03:39 AM
GUEST 27 Jan 13 - 06:33 PM
GUEST,Deacon 05 Dec 16 - 01:50 PM
GUEST,Joe 11 Aug 17 - 03:51 PM
Jackaroodave 11 Aug 17 - 06:08 PM
Jackaroodave 11 Aug 17 - 06:13 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 12 Aug 17 - 06:49 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 12 Aug 17 - 07:45 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 13 Aug 17 - 07:01 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:






Subject: RE: Who/what is THE GREAT SPECKLED BIRD?
From: Cappuccino
Date: 12 Mar 02 - 08:58 AM

I always enjoy impressing country fans (but nobody else) by saying that I met Acuff backstage at the Grand Ole Opry (another phrase that goes down well with country fans!) in the early 80s, I think.

They were just building the new Opryland, and an agent told me that they had built a special house in it for Acuff to retire in. That's nice, I said.

No, they answered - they're just waiting for him to die, then they can turn it into a museum and charge entry!

Such cynicism in country music? Dear me...! - Ian B


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is THE GREAT SPECKLED BIRD?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 12 Mar 02 - 11:30 AM

That's GREAT, Jeanie! Thanks!

~S~


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is THE GREAT SPECKLED BIRD?
From: TJO
Date: 12 Mar 02 - 02:50 PM

Somewhere back in the dim and distant I heard that "The Great Speckled Bird" came from a visual image of an open Bible. The open pages form wings on either side, and the letters make them look speckled. I can't vouch for any truth in that derivation, but I like it. And it seems more fitting for a country song than some scholarly glosses on the Book of Jeremiah. Certainly the Bible being identified with the church could have led to combining the images.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is THE GREAT SPECKLED BIRD?
From: GUEST,redhorse
Date: 12 Mar 02 - 06:03 PM

A CD set I just got includes Great Speckled Bird by "Roy Acuff and his Crazy Tennesseeans" dated 1936, which has the second verse

With all the other birds flocking round her
She is so despised by the squad
The Great Speckled Bird is the Bible
Representing the great Church of God

Seems fairly explicit


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is THE GREAT SPECKLED BIRD?
From: SharonA
Date: 12 Mar 02 - 06:35 PM

Great work, Jeannie! (I still like catspaw's characterization of the Christian Church as a free-range emu, though...)

At one point, Jeannie, you say: "It seems to me that the songwriter has totally misinterpreted the Jeremiah passage in the first place." I'm wondering whether it was the songwriter who misinterpreted it, or whether he might have heard that misinterpretation from the pulpit. In other words, had the church (or any denomination thereof) referred to itself as The Great Speckled Bird at the time the song was written, or before then? It certainly wouldn't have been the first time that some enthusiastic preacher mixed his metaphors!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is THE GREAT SPECKLED BIRD?
From: Dicho
Date: 12 Mar 02 - 06:41 PM

The interpretation by Redhorse is one Roy Acuff took from the song by Rev. Guy Smith, but see the posting by Joe Offer. Here he quotes the original Bible passage, and the original meaning seems to be the church.
Stewie, I may be wrong (can't help it not having all the data) but I thought all of the verses in version #2 (in DT) were actually used by Smith in his published poem before Acuff recorded it. I also have notes that Acuff's original recording had only four of the verses. He varied it through the years.
I think Joe is closer to the biblical meaning (his training and background). Neither Acuff (or myself) have the theological background to get at the true meaning.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is THE GREAT SPECKLED BIRD?
From: Jeanie
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 03:17 AM

I gathered material from many different Bible commentaries,Dicho. If you want to look into this in more detail,a starting point is the on-line commentary on www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Jer/

Joe may want to add to this himself, but in his post where he quotes Jer. 12:9, he says "BUT in the SONG the church is like the great speckled bird."

There's no doubt that in the song, the "great speckled bird" is being used to represent the church (or a church/denomination/members thereof), and, moreover, in a positive light.

But the original question was : "Who/what is the great speckled bird?" For that, you go back to the source, the Bible, where the "great speckled bird" represents something very different.

As SharonA says, here is one example of very many, where a bible passage or concept has been misinterpreted and, over time, like a game of Chinese whispers, a whole false mythology has sprung up.I find that whole process fascinating.

- Jeanie


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is THE GREAT SPECKLED BIRD?
From: Cappuccino
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 04:43 AM

I think you're right. I think Acuff was sincere, but not entirely correct... as Dicho suggests,we can all get slightly theologically adrift in some of the songs we do.

And my favourite version of the song is by Mudcatter Norton1 and his mates, on the Frio Caballeros CD.

- Ian B


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is THE GREAT SPECKLED BIRD?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 06:35 AM

Brenda Wooton with freckles !


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is THE GREAT SPECKLED BIRD?
From: gnu
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 08:18 AM

Is it kin to the Great Bird of Diminishing Returns ? That which flies in ever smaller circles until it flies up it's own ass and disappears ? Oh, how I use to love airline economic studies !


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is THE GREAT SPECKLED BIRD?
From: WyoWoman
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 08:40 AM

I don't know about all this, but I do think it lives in the tree above my parking spot.

ww


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is THE GREAT SPECKLED BIRD?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 08:53 AM

I which case it's THE GREAT SPECKLING BIRD.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: GUEST,C Brown
Date: 11 Feb 11 - 05:12 PM

I've been researching this subject and here is one paragraph I found:
Recorded in 1936 by Roy Acuff, the lyrics were apparently written by the Reverend Guy Smith. The image of the "speckled bird," most experts agree, is a reference to Jeremiah 12:9: Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her. The use of "heritage" here means the life one must lead as a consequence of the way one was "raised," but also the one determined by dint of personality: in contrast to an oral tradition, in which thought is spirit, from the outside (as from God), the song is an example of psyche, the experience of literacy, in which thought comes from within. Although the lyrics would suggest gospel music inspirations (they were written by a minister, after all), the music was inspired by a song from the secular realm, and as such the song would seem to be a fierce statement of self-reliance, perseverance, and the perils of the individual within a mass society. Most sources I've come across claim the melody is traditional, used first (in recorded history; it is no doubt much older) in "I Am Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes," a song recorded in the 1920s. The same melody was also used in Hank Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life," and in Kitty Wells' answer song to "The Wild Side of Life," titled "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels." To my knowledge, the fact that the four songs all used the same melody was first pointed out, in recorded form anyway, by David Allan Coe, on the best album he ever did, RIDES AGAIN (1977), and the song, "Punkin Center Barn Dance."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 11 Feb 11 - 06:11 PM

The most amazing thing about this song is the myriad number of country songers who have been attracted to it. Its very mystifying if you come to country music fairly late in life - you really wonder if its some sort of club. And you search for the metaphor - but even wonderful expositions like Jeanie's do not explain quite why this song has such resonance and meaning for country music artists.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: Amos
Date: 12 Feb 11 - 11:43 AM

ANd just to round the collection out:

Wild Side of Life

    Recorded by Hank Thompson
    [key of C moderate 4/4 time]

[C] You wouldn't read my letter if I [F] wrote you
You [G7] asked me not to call you on the [C] phone.
But there's something I'm wanting to [F] tell you
So I [G7] wrote it in the words of this [C] song.

(chorus)
I didn't know God made honky tonk [F] angels
I [G7] should have known you'd never make a [C] wife
You gave up the only one that ever [F] loved you
And went [G7] back to the wild side of [C] life.

The glamor of the gay night life has [F] lured you
To the [G7] places where the wine and liquor [C] flows.
There you wait to be anybody's [F] baby
And for [G7] get the only love you'll ever [C] know.

Kitty Wells' version:

You wouldn't read my letter if I wrote you
You asked me not to call you on the phone
But there's something I'm wanting to tell you
So I wrote it in the words of this song

I didn't know God made honky tonk angels
I might have known you'd never make a wife
You gave up the only one that ever loved you
And went back to the wild side of life

As I sit here tonight the jukebox's playing
The tune about the wild side of life
As I listen to the words you are saying
It brings mem'ries when I was a trustin' wife

It wasn't God who made honky tonk angels
As you said in the words of your song
Too many times married men think they're still single
That has caused many-a good girl to go wrong

It's a shame that all the blame is on us women
It's not true that only you men feel the same
From the start most every heart that's ever broken
Was because there always was a man to blame

It wasn't God who made who made honky tonk angels
As you said in the words of your song
Too many times married men think they're still single
That has caused many-a good girl to go wrong

I didn't know God made honky tonk angels
I might have known you'd never make a wife
You gave up the only one that ever loved you
And went back to the wild side of life
And went back to the wild side of life


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 06:33 AM

the great speckled bird was a song written in the 1930s by guy smith. i believe that smith wrote it about jeremy and some of the verses were about john but no one knows if that's true. i think that an earlier song called on the wings of a dove might have bene written in the 1890s which means that the carter family were not the first to write their tune of 'i'm thinking tonight of my blue eyes in 1929'. i also think this song about the bird should be sung more times and more well remembered thaat the 1952 song the wild side of life is. when i look at the singers who are from britain the things they say is we like to sing that kind of music. a scottish singer from glasgow named lena martell who sings country music likes the wild side because in the interview she said that i do sing hymns but i have never heard of the song about the bird. the first time i heard the song was by roy acuff and i could not believe that that tune was made into a more memorable song and looking at the recordings of this song of the bird i could not beleve that more folk songs were set to this tune, and if you write that type of music with new words i thought that doing a chart of many songs that have been known as different titles including the great speckled bird.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: GUEST,Seth
Date: 30 Jul 11 - 12:48 PM

If you really read the Jeremiah passage carefully, in Old Testament context, and to line up with the rest of the Bible, you will find that "The Great Speckled Bird" really represents the Children of Israel, NOT "the great Church of God." It's ridiculous when people call their group "Israel" when the Bible is, in fact, literally talking about ISRAEL when it is talking about Israel. It should be obvious now, with the reestablishing of the nation of Israel, that the biblical concept of this nation is not obsolete and there is no need that any "church" replaces Israel. Israel and the Church are two entirely different concepts.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Jul 11 - 10:25 PM

"Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her"

When small birds see a large one, which they take to be a predator, they will mob it. They dive at it from above, attacking its eyes. All the big bird can do is keep flying, because it lacks the maneuverability (sp) of the small birds.

I've seen gulls, hawks and crows being attacked in this fashion. I've also seen crows mobbing a red-tailed hawk.

The Jews stood apart from all other groups because they alone were monotheists. I believe the prophet is saying that the Jews are being persecuted by pagan of various sorts. Or it could be that the Jews are being attacked by others acting in consort, simply as another in the many wars of the middle east.

=====================
My father (born 1914) would sometimes talk about an airplane taking off, and he would say "And it was off like a great speckled bird!" The saying was not symbolic at all.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 10:19 AM

I don't think it refers to the Bible, More a symolic and as explained in the lyrics, to refer to a bird, or person that doesn't fit in with the crowd, the other birds/people are jealous and feel threatened by it's difference, trying to force it to become more like them i.e 'desiring to lower it's standards. It pretty much relayes to things like racish, homophobia, all sorts of idioms where those who deviate from the 'norm' are 'great speckled birds' The ironic thing of course is that while it originally refers to religion, or believers in God, It's Religion that is the most Racist, phobic, divisive part of life


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 01:09 PM

I'm not sure it's useful to look for a lot of Biblical or theological meaning when the song (GSB no. 2) says "The great speckled bird in the Bible is one with the Great Church of God." Who knows what the composer (Acuff in this case) was thinking. Remember that people have constructed an entire set of worship practices from the Biblical phrase "and they shall take up serpents."

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 02:19 PM

I live in Chattanooga Tennessee. There is an old church in a nearby community, Reliance, Tennessee. There is a plaque at the church with the inscription that the song was written by someone in that church (whose name I can't recall). Reliance is on the Hiwassee River. I think that the movie deliverance was partially filmed there.
Wilco in Tennessee


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: GUEST,greg
Date: 08 Aug 11 - 04:17 PM

Some of the lines from the song show the real and hidden meaning of
the scripture passage. This song portrays the church world even in todays setting,but it's not as bad now as it was 40 to 50 years ago.
As the church advances we seem to stray from old biblical teachings.
The song states that others that were apart of her on rank talk about her because she holds the standard of God's word while the others want to change and stray from true teachings " Let's make Living for God easier and a less time consuming" But she held the standad and was picked upon for her Love of the TRUTH of GOD's WORD
by her very own and they formed an allance against the true Word.
I raise chikens and if you place a speckled chicken in to the flock
they will peck them some times to death just because of they look different than the rest ,


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 12 Sep 12 - 05:56 PM

It should be noted that The Prisoner's Song is also set to essentially the same melody.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: Arkie
Date: 13 Sep 12 - 12:43 PM

Had not thought of the similarity of the tune with The Prisoner's Song and glad to have that brought to our attention.

On the meanings of the Great Speckled Bird, fortunately, people keep singing the song and do so because it strikes some chord of appeal and has done so for many generations.

A couple of observations. Several species of birds are "speckled" when they are young. Bluebirds and Robins come to mind. The Ugly Duckling tale is based upon rejection based upon the difference in appearance. Neither of these concepts are related to 'meaning' but both might involve a sense of recognition.

The song does relate to a specific passage from the Bible, but it is also based upon imagery and analogy and neither requires a literal interpretation. The suggestion is that the people of God are different from those around them and there is persecution because of the difference. The historical context suggests the people are the nation of Israel, but that is only one level of interpretation. The basic underlying truth is that people who are different do risk ill treatment.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: Henry Krinkle
Date: 08 Dec 12 - 08:07 PM

We had an underground newspaper here in the 60's and 70's. The Great Speckled Bird.
=(:-( ))


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: GUEST,Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Dec 12 - 02:22 AM

I always envisage it as a big mistle thrush.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 10 Dec 12 - 03:39 AM

No, it's a greater spotted woodpecker Al

Dave H


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jan 13 - 06:33 PM

I always thought the speckled bird refferance was about some sort of anphetimine, Speckled birdies was a common street name for doctor prescribed diet pills ( speeders, uppers, etc)which during the time he recorded this song was one of the most widely prescibed medication in the united states.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: GUEST,Deacon
Date: 05 Dec 16 - 01:50 PM

The Great Speckled Bird is the Church


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 11 Aug 17 - 03:51 PM

What people should know about this song: The tune has been known as a bit of a lie and a mix-up. The Carter Family weren't the first to come up with this tune all together. The first song that came into public in the recording industry was called Thrills I Can't Forget recorded by John Ferguson who if you want to look you won't be able to find anything on but you'll still find the song on the list of songs that were set to this tune.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 11 Aug 17 - 06:08 PM

Thank you, Joe.

Looking for John Ferguson, I found instead a 78 recording on you tube. It's a very old 78, and you can watch it being played, but its condition was so bad, for me, it was mainly of historical interest, and a chance to pay my respects to the creator who brought variously so much pleasure to so many people. I'd recommend looking at the lyrics first to follow the song at all.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=lWAdasjovaA


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 11 Aug 17 - 06:13 PM

Oops, take its back about finding the lyrics to "Thrills That I can't Forget." At least I couldn't.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 12 Aug 17 - 06:49 AM

John Ferguson's real name was Welby Toomey (1897 – 1989) from central Kentucky.

Jeremiah 12:8-10 (verse 12 is on keeping faith when others around you have lost theirs / are attacking yours.)

"Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore I have hated it.

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.

Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
"

Heritage = the Bride of Christ, the old school fundamentalist American Presbyterian Church.

Many pastors = theological liberalism.

Guy Smith (aka - Uncle George of the Goodwill Family, KWTO-AM, Sprinfield, MO) was a fundamentalist. His side lost the 1920s 'big debate.'


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 12 Aug 17 - 07:45 AM

PS: The "speckled bird" equivalent of a roaring lion would be a raptor. eg: Falcon.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 13 Aug 17 - 07:01 PM

A little more context:

Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy - Wikipedia

The biggest fuss, mostly scripted, was the Scopes Trial with Clarence Darrow for evolution and William Jennings Bryant for creationism.

"Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story, unless you can't think of anything better. Twain

And yes Smith has completely transformed the Old Testament context.

Jeremiah's speckled bird is the bird that keeps the other birds awake at night. The bird that knocks.

Smith's speckled bird is sent from God to carry the faithful to heaven on judgement day. Nice birdie.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 23 September 10:03 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.