Great Speckled Bird, The

DESCRIPTION: "What a beautiful thought I am thinking Concerning the great speckled bird." The bird, though attacked by other birds, "is one with the great church of God." The bird's success is promised when God comes on the bird's wings
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1936 (Aurora Advertiser)
KEYWORDS: religious Bible bird
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Randolph 621, "The Great Speckled Bird" (1 texts plus a fragment, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 435-437, "The Great Speckled Bird" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 621A)
Silber-FSWB, p. 368, "The Great Speckled Bird" (1 text)

Roud #7444
Roy Acuff & his Crazy Tennesseans, "Great Speckle Bird" (Vocalion 04252/OKeh 04252/Conqueror 8740, 1936; ARC 7-01-59, 1937; Columbia 37005, c 1946; Columbia 20031, c. 1947; Columbia [Canada]C-1139, 1948; rec. 1936)
Hall Brothers, "The Great Speckled Boatman" (Bluebird, unissued, 1938)
Holiness Church congregation, "Great Speckled Bird" (on MMOKCD)
Jack & Leslie, "The Great Speckled Bird" (Decca 5555, 1938)
Charlie Monroe's Boys, "The Great Speckled Bird" (Bluebird B-7862, 1938)
Morris Brothers, "The Great Speckled Bird" (Bluebird B-7903, 1938)

cf. "Broken Ties (I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes)" (tune)
Great Speckle Bird No. 2 (RECORDING: Roy Acuff & his Smoky Mountain Boys, ARC 07-06-54/Conqueror 8877, 1937; Vocalion 04374/OKeh 04374, 1938; Columbia 37007, 1946; Columbia 20003. c. 1948; rec. 1937; Columbia 20032, c. 1945)
Answer to Great Speckled Bird (RECORDING: Roy Hall & his Blue Ridge Entertainers, OKeh 4771, prob. 1939; recorded 1938; listed as Vocalion 04771/Conqueror 9184 in Lornell, _Virginia's Blues, Country & Gospel Records 1902-1943_)
NOTES [163 words]: Usually credited to Roy Acuff (who certainly popularized it); however, a 1936 printing in the Aurora, Missouri Advertiser precedes Acuff's 1937 copyright, and there is a claim that it was written around 1934 by Guy "Uncle George" Smith. And some of Randolph's informants would date the song much earlier.
There is a significant similarity to the Carter Family's version of "Broken Ties (I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes)," which may have inspired this as well as several later important country songs.
The image of the "great speckled bird" comes from Jeremiah 12:9 in the King James Bible ("Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her"). This is not, however, a very apt translation of a difficult Hebrew original (which mentions, seemingly as a single subject, a hyena and a bird of prey; the ancient Greek version reads "My inheritance is a hyena's cave"); most modern versions render the verse in a way not parallel to the KJV. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.6
File: R621

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