Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

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“Uncle Booger Red & Byrdie Nelle”: Does Don Kirshner Know About This?

There is fascinatingly little to be found on the web about a song called “Uncle Booger Red & Byrdie Nelle.”  I discovered this tune on an oddball compilation album of country music obscurities and social commentary songs entitled, Country Comment, on the Charly label, a European import.  The song is sung by Rex Allen, Jr., and written by two people – someone named Davis and the other one Collins.  Most intriguingly, the song is published by Screen Gems/Columbia, the publishing company of Don Kirshner.  About this track, the liner notes simply say, “The laid-back country-soul approach is demonstrated by Rex Allen, showing a trace of Tony Joe White in his voice but little of his father’s Walt Disney narrator’s style”:

Uncle Booger Red & Byrdie Nelle – Rex Allen Jr

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle to play “Uncle Booger Red & Byrdie Nelle” by Rex Allen Jr.]

I almost gave up searching for information until I stumbled upon the fact that, of all people, Mac Davis is the one who not only sang the song originally but wrote it.  At one time in the 1970s, Mac Davis was pretty hot and even had his own TV show.  Plus, Mac was signed to Columbia Records – which is why I’m stunned to find hardly any history on this song.

Wait a minute – I just discovered the problem:  orthography.  Perhaps it’s a Texas thing, but Mac Davis included this song on his 1970 debut album, Song Painter, and spelled “booger” with an A, not an E.  Apparently, no one had the courage at the time to tell Mac Davis that’s no way to spell the word, “booger.”

Thanks to LP Discography, I just learned who co-wrote the song:  Larry Collins, the gifted guitarist who was a regular performer on the Town Hall Party TV show at the tender age of 10 as half of The Collins Kids.

Rabbit Looping with Uncle Booger Red & Byrdie Nelle

William Kerns of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal newspaper, in his 2008 piece extolling the great Independence Day traditions that Lubbock, Texas has to offer, described one particularly colorful activity – “rabbit looping” – enjoyed by Mac Davis and his (now famous) aunt and uncle:

Davis and his family would spend each Independence Day at the ranch near Post owned by his Uncle Booger Red and Aunt Byrdie Nell.   They hunted by day and, when the sun set it was time for rabbit-looping.

“We’d take an old tractor tire and cut the rim out of the middle,” said Davis. “Then we’d replace the rim with basketball netting.  One of us would stand in the back of a pickup driven across a field.  We’d spotlight a jackrabbit, try to catch up to it, then toss the tire so you had this jackrabbit standing up in the netting.

“That was big fun, and I’m not just talking about me and my teenage buddies. My full-grown uncles and cousins were with us every year, too.”

There was one negative.

Davis explained, “Lots of times the pickup driver had to turn suddenly to avoid a big mesquite bush. If I wasn’t careful, I’d wind up flying out of the pickup and into the mesquite.”

Davis said, “But I got to be pretty good at rabbit-looping.”

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