Hee Haw - The Collection

I rented the Hee Haw Collection DVD, and found I have the same slightly sick feeling I had when I was 7 or 8 years old and watched it on Saturday nights, usually with Grendel, while a babysitter talked to her friends on a landline phone.

The sets were brashly lit and cheap, and the jokes were just... well, here are a few:

Hillbilly 1: I heard yer brother in law, Luke, up and done away with hisself last week. How’d he do it?
Hillbilly 2: Well, he laid down on the railroad tracks and he tied hisself to the rail.
Hillbilly 1: And then the train come along and ground him ta pieces, huh?
Hillbilly 2: No, he missed the train. Luke jest laid there waitin’ fer the next one and starved to death.

Junior Samples: I hate my mother in law.
Roy Clark: Well if it wasn’t fer yer mother in law, you wouldn’t have yer wife!
Junior: That’s another reason I hate ‘er.

Grandpa Jones in a doctor’s office:
Doc: Grandpa, you mean to tell me yer gonna marry a 18 year old girl? Why, don’t you know that could be fatal?
Grandpa: If she dies, she dies!

Hillbilly: Hey Junior, why you got that black eye?
Junior: I told my wife this mornin’ that her socks were wrankled and she weren’t wearin’ any.

Probably the strangest bit was Grandpa Jones washing windows, then resting his hands through the panes that weren’t there. An off-camera crowd of people yell in unison:
Grandpa: Turtle stew with onions and crackers, wild greens, stewed auger holes, and bread puddin’!!
Crowd: YUM YUM!!!

And finally, the song those two guys sang, the first part of which changes each time:

You took off your peg leg your wig and your glass eye
You were surprised at the look on my face
I wanted to kiss and hug on you darlin’
But you were scattered all over the place
Where oh where are you tonight?
Why did you leave me here all alone?
I searched the world over and thought I found true love
You met another and pfffffft you was gone


Grendel said...

I remember that slightly sick feeling very well. Why did we watch a show that made us so anxious and nauseous? Was it because we lived in a rural farming community -- was it because the show was kind of about us? I never once laughed at anything that happened on Hee Haw, but I felt compelled to watch it week after week after week...

Random: For some reason that I am determined to never fully think about, I thought Buck Owens was God. Not like people say Clapton is God, or Hendrix was God. I thought Buck Owens, with his red, white, and blue guitar, was literally the Almighty. We're talking deep, repressed, confused memory here. He just looked like I thought God would look. And not Jesus, either. God. Why the Supreme Being would spend his time playing music on a horrible, cheap, half-hour variety show that made me queasy was a question that simply never occurred to me.

I'm sure we all know the story of Stringbean, the banjo player on that show who used to play with Bill Monroe. He didn't trust banks, and it was rumored around Nashville that he kept a big wad of cash at home. One night he and his wife came back to discover thieves in the house. The intruders murdered them, and the next morning Grandpa Jones, Stringbean's neighbor and friend, found their bodies. The murderers were caught, but they hadn't found the money. 23 years later, $20,000 was discovered in the chimney of Stringbean's house (thanks, Wikipedia, for the details).

SER said...

At the R household, there was a lot of Hee-Haw watching as well. THR and I would watch it when our parents went out each week, and we were left with Mrs. Carson, who did not drive. We'd eat Hungry Man TV dinners and watch the tube for three or four straight hours, which was more than the rest of the week's viewing total. I'm not sure we picked up on all that you picked up on, since we were - and remain - younger.

The other day, I had "...and pfft you was gone," in my head. This is a timely post, G-bot.

semanticist said...

Hee Haw was always on at Grandpa's house, early Saturday evening.

I remember, ca. 1995, Grendel recalling a certain set of lyrics for a particular boss:

Gloom, despair, and agony on me/
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery {Aaaaw)/
If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all {Ooooh)/
Gloom, despair, and agony on me/

I didn't think Buck Owens was God, but I was impressed that any man could have an eponymous band of pickers ("... and now, Buck Owens and the Buckaroos!").

Thinking back at its format, the show really could have been called "Red State Laugh-In."

bR said...

Unlike Grendel and Gwarbot, I have somewhat fonder memories of Hee Haw, largely because it was situated smack in the middle of more important Saturday night events. Hee Haw was preceded by professional wrestling on channel 17 (Ted Turner's original SuperStation) and followed by "Emergency," which was a favorite amongst the R children. (For those of you who may not recall, "Emergency" was sort of an early "ER." And I believe second grade was the year I had my "Emergency" lunchbox.)

Hee Haw also meant that my folks were getting dressed to go out for the evening--it was usually playing on their bedroom TV--and as soon as they departed and the babysitter arrived, the real wrestling matches would commence in our then-unfurnished living room. This gave my brother and I an hour or two to imitate Dusty Rhodes, Mr. Wrestling No. 1 and No. 2, Natureboy Rick Flair, and the other titans of pre-WWE wrestling.

Hee Haw is more a placemarker to me than an actual form of entertainment. The conspicuous exception to that notion, however, is the song cited by semanticist, which I still, on occasion, can be caught singing. I recall it, slightly differently and probably incorrectly, as "Woe, despair, and agany on me..." Perhaps since Gwarbot has recently viewed the tapes, he can confirm whether the lead-in is "woe" or "gloom."

And finally, while Buck Owens was probably the more talented of the two, let us not forget picker Roy Clark. Even today, when I hear a banjo on an Alison Krauss record or in some other bluegreass recording, I still associate that instrument with Roy.

TLB said...

I had an "Emergency" first-aid kit complete with yellow plastic telephone to call in to "Rampart" and plastic syringes.

I loved Hee-Haw. It was the thing I always watched at my aunt and uncle's farm on Saturday nights. To us country dorks, it seemed fonder than it seems now.

gwarbot said...

br and others: The "woe/gloom" discrepancy will have to continue until another rentable edition comes out. Surprisingly, that was not included in any of the clips. The DVD I saw was entire first episode (Loretta Lynn singing "Your Squaw is on the Warpath"), and then some "best of" bits and pieces. I have no idea why the "woe/gloom" guys weren't included in this one.

Grendel said...

I'm 99% sure it was gloom. In fact, I'll bet anyone $20.