Today’s song is ‘Great Speckled Bird’. This is a hymn from the Southern United States whose lyrics were written by the Reverend Guy Smith and were transcribed by singer Charlie Swain. It is an allegory referencing Fundamentalist self-perception during the ‘Fundamentalist Modernist Controversy’.
It was recorded in 1936 by Roy Acuff. It was also later recorded by Johnny Cash (1959): Kitty Wells (1959): Pearly Brown (1961): Hank Lockling (1962): Marty Robbins (1966): Lucinda Williams (1978): Bert Southwood (1990). Marion Williams and Jerry Lee Lewis, George Jones also recorded it in the early 1970s.
This hymn became a standard country and western song that literally hundreds of singers have covered and recorded their own version of, and its origins are now almost a century old.
I must confess, the first time that I ever heard this song, my initial thoughts went to the traditional stories told by many Native Americans who lived in tribes across the American planes and whose prime source of survival was the buffalo they hunted. So many stories from the tribes of Native Americans involved large creatures either being seen in the skies or coming down from the skies in the form of horses, buffaloes, eagles, and birds of all descriptions.
I suppose that given the times, and that science had not advanced then as much as it has today, it wasn’t surprising that so many native Americans saw images of their beliefs appear in the sky above; probably in cloud formations. Indeed, messages from the Gods have reportedly come from the heavenly skies for a thousand years or more; the Roman God of Thunder, Thor, being but one example.
Any scholar of the Roman and Greek Classics or readers of Mythology will know of ‘The Sky Gods’. The Gods of the sky and weather were named ‘Theoi Ouranioi’ or ‘Theoi Meteoroi’ by the Greeks. These sky Gods were under the command of Zeus and Hera; the King and Queen of heaven. These sky and weather Gods ruled all the aspects which governed our climates.
There was Atlas, the Sky-Bearer: Zeus, God of Sky: Helius, God of the Sun: Seline of the Moon: Eos of the Dawn: Nyx of the Night: Anemoi of the Winds: Boreas, God of the North Wind: Zephyrus, God of the West Wind: Harpyiae of the Whirlwinds: Hera of the Air: Aurae of the Breezes: Hesperides of the Sunsets: Horae of the Seasons: Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow.
In fact, I am willing to wager that many people today will frequently see images in the sky formed by cloud formations and even lightning streaks and thunderbolts during storms that resemble almost identical images of animals or even angels or Jesus. Imagine the thoughts which might have gone through the heads of people thousands of years ago, and the importance they may have attached to such ‘miraculous appearances’ of such images. All one has to do in 2020, is to look through the social media pages and discover all manner of likenesses on pieces of toast, in the sky formations or even shapes within pools of water. Have a nice day, everyone.
Love and peace Bill xxx