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Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon

GUEST,Bob Coltman 05 Dec 07 - 09:36 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 05 Dec 07 - 09:42 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 05 Dec 07 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 05 Dec 07 - 10:09 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Dec 07 - 03:16 PM
Jim Dixon 11 Dec 07 - 07:21 AM
Scoville 11 Dec 07 - 09:10 AM
GUEST,harpgirl 11 Dec 07 - 09:47 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Dec 07 - 10:12 AM
Stringsinger 11 Dec 07 - 03:04 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Dec 07 - 04:58 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Dec 07 - 06:20 PM
BanjoRay 11 Dec 07 - 06:34 PM
Stringsinger 12 Dec 07 - 02:00 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Dec 07 - 04:04 PM
Stringsinger 12 Dec 07 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 13 Dec 07 - 10:11 AM
GUEST,David T Smith 18 Sep 15 - 03:46 AM
GUEST,Sara Gaylen Smith Michel 13 Jan 16 - 01:51 PM
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Subject: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 05 Dec 07 - 09:36 AM

(disambiguation: NOT Big Mama Thornton's song later a hit for Elvis)

Hound dog, bay at the moon,
Lift up your long head and bay at the moon ...

I won't give the whole lyric; it's in the DT as sung by Cisco Houston and it was later recorded by Odetta.

Does anyone know the author's name and the circumstances of its first circulation before the better known singers got hold of it?

I first heard this song on Stinson LP#47 by the Mechau Family.

(They were a story in themselves. After celebrated Colorado artist Frank Mechau died in 1946 at the age of 42, his widow Paula (d. November 2005) and kids Vanni, Dorik, Duna and Mike were strapped for cash and toured to make ends meet. They sang a fun collection of songs picked up hither and yon in a slightly arty but not pretentious style; Hound Dog was one. They gave no source for it.)

Someone who heard me sing it during the late 50s told me Woody Guthrie wrote it. Though I doubt that, Woody may have performed it -- it's the sort of wailing dog song I think he'd have loved to tackle. Certainly his pal Cisco sang it.

A DT topic search turns up a brief reference by a poster who says "Hound Dog Bay at the Moon" was written by an Oklahoma college professor, name not remembered. At the Sam Eskin website is a sound sample on which Sam sings a brief version (including a verse pretty clearly of his own making) and says it was written by one Walt (sounds like Datherfings??) who later committed suicide. He mumbles and I can't get any more than that from it.

Anyone know the author's real name and the circumstances of its early circulation before the better known singers got hold of it?

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 05 Dec 07 - 09:42 AM

(excuse the duplicated line above. Brain glitch.)

P.S. For those interested, Paula Mechau's informative biography appears in her obit at

http://www.postindependent.com/article/20051126/OBITUARIES/51126009

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 05 Dec 07 - 09:47 AM

Oh, and I'm aware of the credit that attributes the song to James Smith and Katie Lee ... I just don't know what to make of it. Anyone have any further information on Smith and Lee's involvement in this? Does it appear in the book "Ten Thousand Goddamn Cattle?" Bob


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 05 Dec 07 - 10:09 AM

Further mysteries:

"Hound Dog" seems to have been recorded by Vaughn Monroe. Lo and behold:

http://es.getalyric.com/mp3/letras/canciones/vaughn_monroe-2501/_in_dreams_i_kiss_your_hand_madame-7818/hound_dog-43174/

That might explain the credit to Smith and Lee. I'm fairly certain they did not write the original song. But they may have composed the additional lyrics.

Indeed the verses in the DT do not seem the same as those usually quoted from Cisco Houston's album Hard Travelin'. The DT version has several extra verses with a corny sort of sound, such as might have been written by someone aiming for a pop novelty.

Here are Houston's original verses as quoted elsewhere on the web:

HOUND DOG

As sung by Cisco Houston on his album "Hard Travelin'"

Cho:        Hound dog, bay at the moon
           Lay back your long ears, and sing your sad tune
           Lift up your long head, and bay at the moon
           Hound dog, bay at the moon

Well, my cotton is weevily and my sorghum's gone bad
My kinfolk have eat up what little I had

Rotten potatoes and a dirty tote sack    [Mechaus: tow sack]
Pain in my belly and a crink in my back

That the Lord should forget me, does bring my heart pain
I guess he's forgotten for to make it to rain

May the good Lord forgive me for the things I done wrong
My hound dog and me will be gone before long
And then we'll quit singing this lonesome old song


The Mechaus' version is similar, though it has a few differences, notably:

Rotten potatoes in a dirty tow sack, ...

That God has forgot me has give me some pain
Now he's forgot how to make it to rain

And they don't include the final verse. Bob


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Dec 07 - 03:16 PM

James W. H. Smith was an M. D. (or possibly a Ph.D). A professor at Oklahoma who wrote on Locoweed. No other information found. The subject would have interested Katie Lee.

I thumbed through Katie Lee's book "Ten Thousand....," but found no Hound Dog (or Baying at the Moon). Took all morning, there are so many western songs in that book that one can get lost in nostalgia, if one is inclined that way. A great book, but no help here.

I wonder if there is a note of some sort in the Sing Out Magazine, vol. 9 no. 4, p. 8, where the song was reproduced.


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Subject: Lyr Add: HOUND DOG (BAY AT THE MOON) from V Monroe
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 11 Dec 07 - 07:21 AM

TV Guide says Vaughn Monroe sang HOUND DOG (BAY AT THE MOON) in the film "Toughest Man in Arizona" (1952). Other songs he sang in that film are MAN DON'T LIVE WHO CAN DIE ALONE and A MAN'S BEST FRIEND IS HIS HORSE (incorrectly reported by TV Guide as A MAN'S BEST FRIEND IS HIS DOG).

The Online 78rpm Discography Project lists a recording by him, RCA 20-4941, called simply HOUND DOG b/w MAN DON'T LIVE WHO CAN DIE ALONE. Also, RCA 20-4942 was YOU'LL NEVER GET AWAY b/w A MAN'S BEST FRIEND IS HIS HORSE. No date is given, but surely those records were released to coincide with the film.

The Vaughn Monroe Society web site has a sound file. These are the lyrics he sang (I copied them from GetALyric.com and corrected them a bit based on what I hear in the sound file):

Hound dog, bay at the moon.
Lay back your long ears. Sing a sad tune.
Lift up your long head and bay at the moon.
Hound dog, bay at the moon.

My crops are all ruined and my 'taters have rot.
No corn in the bin and no beans in the pot.
Ain't no kind of troubles that I haven't got.
Hound dog, bay at the moon.

Got holes in my socks just as big as a barn.
Can't sew them up cause the darn things won't darn.
Can't sew them up cause the darn things won't darn.
Hound dog, bay at the moon.

My hound dog is weary. His coat has turned gray.
Now all he's good for is to scratch fleas and bay.
Now all he's good for is to scratch fleas and bay.
Hound dog, bay at the moon.

Lift up your long ears and sing your sad tune.
Lay back your long ears and bay at the moon.
Hound dog, bay at the moon.
Hound dog, bay at the moon.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: Scoville
Date: 11 Dec 07 - 09:10 AM

There was an independent musician named Bob White who recorded a very good version of that in . . . the early 1970's, maybe? I'll look when I get home and see if he has an attribution on his liner notes.

He did the "rotten potates" and "That the Lord should forget me" version.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: GUEST,harpgirl
Date: 11 Dec 07 - 09:47 AM

Bob White says on his Front Hall recording called Collector's Series FHR011@1977, that Grady Tuck brought this song with him from California. He notes you can find it in the Cisco Houston songbook.

I've always loved this album. What happened to Bob?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Dec 07 - 10:12 AM

All Music lists a "Hound Dog" by Katie Lee, sung by Anne Hills.
It is track 3 on her album, "Don't Panic." The sound clip (Amazon) has a distinctly western or country feel.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: Stringsinger
Date: 11 Dec 07 - 03:04 PM

I also understood it to be a composed song by an Oklahoma University professor.

As an interesting sideline, when I knew Mike Stoller and Jerry Lieber at the parties given through UCLA many years ago, I had sung this song within their earshot. Although I can't officially corroborate this, I have a hunch they heard it and revamped the title for Big Mama Thorton. I can't prove this, however, but I always wondered about it. Mike and Jerry were interested in the folk music stuff that Guy Carawan and I were singing around UCLA in the early Fifties. Mike was a be-bop jazz pianist and Jerry was a drummer. I went to Jr. High
with Jerry Lieber. Who knew that they would be Leiber and Stoller?

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Dec 07 - 04:58 PM

As noted earlier, the professor was co-author with Katie Lee.
During the years Katie operated a Colorado River ranch, she probably heard a lot of baying at the moon.

The Katie Lee archives are held by the Sharlot Hall Museum.
Katie Lee Archive
Her albums, "Folk Songs and Poems of the Colorado River," and "Colorado River Songs," 1964 and 1988 resp., are prized by collectors.
She has campaigned hard to preserve the canyons of the Colorado River region.

Listen to Gail Gardner and Katie Lee on the audio presentation, "Katie Lee Sings Cowboy Songs with Gail Gardner." An hour and 20 minutes of talk and song.
Katie Lee Gail Gardner


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Dec 07 - 06:20 PM

Folk Song Index lists Hound Dog (see Baying at the Moon), James Smith and Katie Lee, in Sing Out Reprints vol. 7-12.

It is not related to "The Hound Dawg Song" (from Randolph) in Lomax, "The Folk Songs of North America," no. 162, p. 311 (with score).


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: BanjoRay
Date: 11 Dec 07 - 06:34 PM

Back in the earlyish fifties I heard the Elvis Presley version of Hound Dog and rushed down to the record shop with my saved up pocket money which would just stretch to a solitary 78. I picked up Hound Dog and ran home and played it - wouldn't you know it was Vaughan Bloody Monroe singing about baying at the bloody moon. It was enough to break a lad's heart.
I'm still recovering.
Ray


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: Stringsinger
Date: 12 Dec 07 - 02:00 PM

I remember singing "Hound Dog Bay at the Moon before Katie Lee did (who used to be called Kay Lee in Los Angeles) and Gail Gardner who was the composer of "Tying A Knot in the Devil's Tail". No one has yet come up with the name of the composer of "Hound Dog, Bay at the Moon". I think Cisco Houston wrote some of the verses to the song that he sings.
This song was known in the Forties and I was informed that it was composed by a U of Oklahoma professor. I don't think Katie can take credit for it.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Dec 07 - 04:04 PM

As noted twice above, the professor was James W. H. Smith. He appears as James Smith and Katie Lee in credits by Cisco Houston, who may have added to the song. I haven't been able to find the date that Smith wrote the lyrics.
The Katie Lee Archives at Sharlot Hall may have correspondence between Smith and Lee.

Burl Ives convinced Katie Lee to leave her production job ("Gildersleeve" was one) in California and to take up singing and composing full time.
Katie Lee was born in 1919; a tireless worker for the preservation of the Colorado River and restoration of Glen Canyon; a couple of years ago she was retired in Jerome, AZ.
Her last book was "Glen Canyon Betrayed," 2006.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: Stringsinger
Date: 12 Dec 07 - 04:16 PM

Smith would have written the lyrics prior to Katie Lee's singing the song publicly.
It was known by quite a few of us in the late 40's and early 1950's.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 10:11 AM

Interesting to learn it goes back to the 40s.

Apparently then the credit should go to Smith alone. Katie Lee's role in it seems to have been restricted to writing the extra verses after the fact, thus creating a second version. All honors to Katie but I must say I like the original best.

Many thanks all, and particularly Q, Stringsinger and Frank,for disentangling this one. Bob


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: GUEST,David T Smith
Date: 18 Sep 15 - 03:46 AM

Dr. James William Hickman Smith wrote and copywrited the song. It appeared in the movie " The Meanest Man in Arizona" with Henry Morgan. Some day I shall release the " Origional" version which so far has still never been released in it's original form.
Katie Lee and Josh White preformed it for Studs Turkel on his " Chicago Radio Show.
My father was indeed a professor At Oklahoma University . He taught medicine ; that part is true.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Hound Dog Bay at the Moon
From: GUEST,Sara Gaylen Smith Michel
Date: 13 Jan 16 - 01:51 PM

My father, James Willam H. Smith, MD wrote this song. He was a teacher of medicine at Oklahoma University Medical Center in Oklahoma City. I recall letters from Katie Lee to him. Van Monroe sang a modified version in a western movie. The original lyrics was lift up your long ears, not head. That's about all I remember, but I can find out more if anyone wants to know. Thanks! Gaylen


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