K-Chuck Radio: The musical tree of “Ida Red”

There is an old adage that nothing is truly created; it is inspired by what came before.

Such is the case with the song “Ida Red.”

“Ida Red” is a song that can trace its roots back to an old folk song from the 1870’s called “Saturday Night,” by composer Frederick W. Root. But the version of the song we know best was performed by Western Swing group Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. Here’s a clip from a 1940’s movie that features not only the song, but the musical dexterity of his Western Swing band.

Now if the rhythm and cadence of “Ida Red” sounds familiar to you, you might know it by a song that drew inspiration from the Bob Wills track. See, Chuck Berry took “Ida Red,” and rewrote it to be a song about a man driving fast to meet his girlfriend. You know it, you love it, here’s “Maybelline.”

Now that musical rhythm, combined with a car going quite fast to meet its destination, would later evolve into the song “Hot Rod Lincoln.” You most likely know it by the version from Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, but here’s one of the early recordings of “Hot Rod Lincoln,” as done by Johnny Bond.

As this post progresses, you’ll notice that – yes – one record influences another. And during the 1970’s “CB Radio” fad, there were several country music songs that extolled the virtues and lingo of the citizens’ band radio system. We now bring in James Huguely, who recorded an album of CB novelty tracks as “Cledus Maggard and the Citizens’ Band,” and this one song, “The White Knight,” took the “Hot Rod Lincoln” concept of a car trying to hit maximum speeds – and turned it into a track about a speeding trucker trying to avoid getting caught in a speed trap.

But I want to go back to “Ida Red.” Here it is again, take a listen. And let me know if you recognize a lyrical couplet in that track.

Yeah, the lyric about “chicken in the bread pan, picking out dough // granny, does your dog bite? No, child, no.”

That’s right. It was used as ammunition by Johnny to beat the Devil and take the Devil’s golden violin. In THAT song.

That’s right, cats and kittens. The branches and lineage of “Ida Red” go through rock and roll, outlaw country music, and even a novelty track about citizens band radio.

Who knew?

You know who knew? You did. Just now.

On K-Chuck Radio. 😀