Friday, August 8, 2014

Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan -- "Tennessee Bird Walk" (1970)

Take away their feathers and
The birds will walk around in underwear

It was hot, hot, HOT when we arrived in San Antonio a few weeks ago to celebrate my sister's recent nuptials.  

But the temperature didn't seem to bother this handsome fella, who was a resident of the Marriott Plaza Hotel, our home away from home during our stay in the Alamo City:

Here's a photo of the wife and one of the kids:

I don't know why this fairly standard-issue Marriott owned a peacock, a peahen, and some exotic pheasants:

That's a silver pheasant, which is native to southeast Asia.  (Why you would give the name silver pheasant to a red, white, and black bird is a mystery to me.)

Observing these fine feathered friends strut around the hotel's courtyard provided us with a few minutes of diversion before we walked down South Alamo Street to break bread at Rosario's, one of the city's best Mexican restaurants.  

I went for the enchiladas de mole:

Being one of the best Mexican restaurants in Washington, DC, or New York City doesn't mean a whole helluva lot.  But being one of the best Mexican restaurants in San Antonio is a major accomplishment.  That's because if you're standing purt near anywhere within the city limits of San Antonio, you can't throw a rock without hitting a pretty good Mexican restaurant.  

(Are you getting tired of my using purt near all the time?  Well, I'm not!) 

The next morning, we walked further into Southtown -- the diverse, artsy district just south of downtown San Antonio that Texas Monthly magazine once called the most eccentric neighborhood in Texas -- to have breakfast tacos at Taco Haven.

Taco Haven is truly a garden of earthly delights . . . and it's cheap, too.  Its presence has graced South Presa Street since Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Torres opened it in 1969.

A history of the restaurant -- signed by the seven Torres children -- is printed on every menu.  Here's an excerpt from that history:

Our mother and father taught all of their seven children to be grateful, first to God and to every customer – especially to those who have been there year in and year out.  They’ve been there when all is well and when our family suffered through our trying times and losses.  Many customers are as constant as the sun's rising and for this we are grateful.
Our parents say that one of the greatest joys about owning a restaurant is the memory of their children throughout the years working together as a family.
These are also our favorite memories.
How can you not love a place like that?  Especially when you can get a couple of breakfast tacos and a Dr. Pepper for less than five dollars.  

I highly recommend the "Torres Special" taco -- a puffy flour tortilla filled with refried beans, melted cheese, a strip of bacon, and guacamole.  It will set you back two bucks.

After you've finished chowing down, take a moment to examine local artist Claudio Aguillon's mural, which is painted on one of the Taco Haven's exterior walls.  I'm not sure exactly what's going on in that mural, but I have a funny feeling some virgins are about to get thrown into a volcano:

There's another Aztec-inspired mural on the nearby Señor Veggie restaurant building:

I love the colors of this Southtown building located immediately across the street from the Taco Haven:

Southtown is adjacent to the King William Historic District, which is named after Kaiser Wilhelm I of Prussia.  It was settled by German immigrants in the 1860s -- the district's first nickname was "Sauerkraut Bend" -- is full of large and eccentric houses:

The George Kalteyer house (1892)
You may wonder why I'm featuring a song with "Tennessee" in its title.  San Antonio is a long way from the Volunteer State, after all.

When I was researching the song featured in the previous 2 or 3 lines -- "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone" -- I learned that Charley Pride's recording of that song hit #1 on the Billboard "Hot Country Singles" chart in April 1970.

Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan
The song that preceded it as the #1 country-western single in the United States was "Tennessee Bird Walk," which was written by Jack Blanchard and recorded by Blanchard and his wife, Misty Morgan (which is a stripper name if I ever heard one). 

The couple's follow-up single -- "Humphrey the Camel" -- made it to #5.  But their subsequent releases (which included "Fire Hydrant No. 79" and "The Legendary Chicken Fairy") didn't fare as well.  Big shocker there.

"Tennessee Bird Walk" is about as dumb as it is possible for a song to be.  I remember hearing it on the radio way back when, but I had completely forgotten it until stumbling across it a few days ago.

Here's the first verse:

Take away the trees and the birds
All have to sit upon the ground
Take away their wings and
The birds will have to walk to get around
And take away the bird baths
And dirty birds will soon be everywhere
Take away their feathers and
The birds will walk around in underwear
Take away their chirp and the
Birds will have to whisper when they sing
And take away their common sense and
They'll be headed southward in the spring

The Birds of a Feather album
Here's the second and final verse:

How about some trees so the birds
Won't have to sit upon the ground
How about some wings so the
Birds won't have to walk to get around
And how about a bird bath or two
so the birds will all be clean
How about some feathers so their
Underwear no longer can be seen
How about a chirp so the birds
Won't have to whisper when they sing
And how about some common sense so they
Won't be blocking traffic in the spring

The human brain is a mysterious thing, and Jack Blanchard's is more mysterious than most -- although not as mysterious as mine.  (If you don't think my brain seems mysterious, just walk around with it in your head for a couple of hours.  I think you'll see what I mean.)

In honor of the Marriott Plaza's gorgeous avians, here's "Tennessee Bird Walk."  

That's quite a video, isn't it?  I can't name another country song that features synthesizers instead of guitars and fiddles.  And I don't think I've ever seen a country singer in a velvet-collared three-piece tuxedo . . . complete with a watch chain, fer cryin' out loud.  (I wonder if ol' Jack has a Phi Beta Kappa key on that watch chain . . . NOT.)

Click below if you'd like to buy "Tennessee Bird Walk" from Amazon:  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this--haven't heard "Tennessee Bird Walk" in "donkey's years" as the Brits say, and it's a primo piece of country fun. And I had never seen photos of the duo, so I didn't know that Ms. Morgan was quite a foxy lady. To go even further back, mention of unclean feathered friends reminded me of George Gobel, who had a comedy-variety show on TV back in the late 1950s. One of his favorite expressions was "Well I'll be a dirty bird!" I remember one of his monologues, in which he told us, "Had the house painted last week. Had it done for free, too. It's white, with green trim, and on the side that faces the highway, it says, 'Chew Red Mule Tobacco.'" That's a pretty good story, if I remember it over 50 years later!