Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Television: The Ballad of Jed Clampett

The Ballad of Jed Clampett

I guess this skirts the edges of the theme, but I love the song and hope you do too.  The Ballad of Jed Clampett is an iconic TV theme song, performed by the best of the best.
Always a bluegrass aficianado, I have to confess that I think there are few better songs than The Ballad of Jed Clampett when it comes to TV air-time. Back when The Beverly Hillbillies first appeared on US TV in the early 60s  , Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs were in their prime. Granted, that prime continued for several more years as they picked their way to iconic stature, but this song placed them above the rest in statistical terms of total listens: the show was a hit and the theme song too.

In those days, TV was black and white. TV was THE entertainment for America: families gathered around the "set" and nationwide rating stats were serious commercial business.

Somewhere back behind the mores of the US in those days is part of what must have influenced Frank Zappa as he wrote and sang about the "slime" oozing out of your TV set.

Don't get me wrong: I loved the Beverly Hillbillies: the unscrupulous banker, Mr Drysdale; the ornery, old time Granny Moses; and the accommodating Jed Clampett. But to me, much more than the characters, it was the finger-picking goodness and hootenanny vocals of the theme song that captured my interest. This was the essence of America: raw country come to urbana.

All the same, when the ads came on every 15 minutes, FZ was lurking somehere in the background (or maybe in the future).

Anyway, Thanks, Frank. Thanks Earl. Thank you John Logie Baird, Philo Taylor Farnsworth and Vladimir Kosma Zworykin for inventing the TV.

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