September 4, 2011

Only high-class stuff

There were a lot of Country Bears, and each one's song has a story. But yesterday's Disneyland had a lot of stories that I want to remember and share. As Henry used to say, "We've got work to do."

So we'll mosey on out of Bear Country in just a spell. First, though, here's one of the best of the bear bunch. Wendell was a smart-alecky character who made a fine foil for Henry, the Jamboree's amiable host. The two wrestled a little, but then settled down to add a couple of short numbers that characterized the wonderful qualities that you used to be able to find in the backwoods corner of the Magic Kingdom. They were folksy, even corny at times—but so was Walt.

Wendell and Henry channelled Homer and Jethro, "the stage names of American country music duo Henry D. Haynes (1920–1971) and Kenneth C. Burns (1920–1989), popular from the 1940s through the 1960s on radio and television for their satirical versions of popular songs. Known as the Thinking Man's Hillbillies, they received a Grammy in 1959 and are members of the Country Music Hall of Fame."

"Mama, don't whup little Buford" was a song on the duo's 1964 LP, "Fractured Folk Songs." So was the title track. Listening to these old recordings will take you right back to setting on one of those long benches as part of the bears' audience. Even the back-and-forth banter between Henry and Wendell ("If ya can't cut it, just lay out") was part of the original song.

I hope you've enjoyed this series on the music behind the bears. The next time you're splashing down Disneyland's version of Magic Mountain's Log Jammer, listen for an echo of the songs that floated through the old Bear Country. And if you step in Pooh Corner, keep your eyes open for the "high-class stuff" that used to be part of the Show.


TokyoMagic! said...

Thanks for the background info on some of the songs from CBJ! I wish this quiet little area of the park still existed with it's picturesque entrance and Rufus snoring up in his cave. Splash Mt. has always looked out of place (in my opinion) the way that they shoehorned it into that area and put it practically on top of the Haunted Mansion.

Bring back the bears!

Connie Moreno said...

I once heard a rumor from a fellow castmember that they considered bringing the bears back under ground (like Bugs Life in DCA). Oh how wonderful that would be!

JG said...

Thanks for the information. I remember Homer and Jethro from my youth. I now have quite a collection of their records.

They really are excellent musicians. I thought the bears act sounded like them, but was too young to be sure.

Now I know. Thanks again.