When that phrase is spoken, some of my generation will — if they allow themselves the vertiginous trip back in time — immediately think of this fellow.


That’s Fess Parker, 1924-2010, who became famous in the Disney television series devoted to frontiersman Davy Crockett.  If I allow my memory to follow its own path (and I was very young in 1955-56) I think of the childish eagerness for a fringed jacket and imitation-coonskin cap or at least a fake raccoon-tail to have attached to one’s bicycle.

And then there’s the soundtrack.  Most of us only remember “Born on a mountain top in Tennessee / Killed him a b’ar when he was only three,” but here is the whole chronicle:

Sixty years after the fact, I feel terribly sorry for the b’ar.  And happy that Davy helped his Native American pals: I hope that this is true, not Disney-fried.

Why, however, am I thinking of Davy Crockett?  Do I need reminding that this blog is called JAZZ LIVES and that digressions from that theme will be tolerated but not overmuch?

For this post, readers can thank Robert Greenwood.  Robert, who lives in the UK, is a jazz fan slightly younger than myself.  On Facebook he diligently and reverently posts musical surprises, celebrating the birthdays of our heroes through YouTube videos of their music.  I’ve learned a great deal from his postings, and have enjoyed them greatly.

Recently, Robert posted this 1961 recording of DAVY CROCKETT’S BLUES –featuring Emmanuel Sayles, banjo and vocal; Punch Miller, trumpet, Emmanuel Paul, clarinet — to celebrate Sayles’ birthday (he was born in 1907) :

Were I an eager young graduate student deep in popular culture, I would already be formulating my well-meant yet deadly conference presentation on appropriations and reshapings of mainstream Caucasian popular culture by African-American innovators . . . but the thought makes me laugh too hard to continue typing.  I simply delight in the way these three New Orleans musicians both pay homage to and recapture Disney — making Davy swing.  Not a small accomplishment.  Thanks, as well, to Andy Wolfenden for creating the video.

I just hope no one goes out in search of b’ars, though.

May your happiness increase!


  1. This was wonderful!
    You made my chilly night on the red sea filled with so much more than the musical songs of the crickets…
    Thank you for all your beautiful posts – I love them! 🙂

  2. The “Ballad of Davy Crockett,” used as the music on the TV program with Fess Parker, was written by George Bruns, who, prior to his songwriting career and years as Disney musical director, was trombonist with Portland, Oregon’s Castle Jazz Band, and tubaist with Turk Murphy’s Jazz Band.

  3. “In 1825, Crockett was elected to the U.S. Congress, where he vehemently opposed many of the policies of President Andrew Jackson, most notably the Indian Removal Act.”

  4. I wanted a coon skin hat soooo bad…never got one, now that’s the Davy Crockett blues!

  5. I never had a Davy Crockett cap but my brother John did.He took up the banjo some years later. Don’t think the two events are connected.

  6. Don "Zoot" Conner

    I would like to hear Davy wail on Bird’s “Confirmation”It isn’t well known that Davy was one of the originators of Be-Bop,but the secret is out-Bravo.

  7. Gary Blackburn

    George Bruns was not the only musician with a jazz connection at the Disney studio in Burbank, California. Look up the Firehouse Five Plus Two on Wikipedia. When I was a student at Cal Poly in San Louis Obispo, CA, that group came on campus to play “for a dance.” With mostly men, few women students, and the fact most of us were in science related programs, plus the aggies, not many of us knew much about the Terpsichorian Arts. For us the dance was a much appreciated concert. Afterwords I chatted with Ward Kimbal because he was a good friend of my dad and George Bruns who worked with my dad on the five TV episodes of Davy Crockett. My dad wrote the screen plays and the lyrics to all the songs. He also had a big hand in finding and selecting Fess Parker for the role as Davy. Do an on-line search for my dad, Tom W Blackburn, to learn of many other things he wrote.

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