I came across this magnificent tune title in a discussion on this site.
The source of the abc is ibiblio’s Fiddler’s Companion, who give some additional info as follows:
"SQUIRREL HEADS AND GRAVY. Old‑Time, Breakdown. G Major. Standard or GDad. AABB. Composed by fiddler Chris Germain c. 1975, originally from Ferguson, Missouri, lately of Washington D.C., apparently as part of a joke. Ironically, the tune has entered tradition and is sometimes listed as a "traditional" melody. The rumor that there is an older tune by the same name only seems to be part of the joke. One story goes that Germain asked around at fiddlers gatherings and parties whether anyone had heard the ‘old’ tune called “Squirrel Heads and Gravy,” then, a few months later started playing his composition allowing people to assume he had unearthed a long-lost piece. Germain played the tune in GDad tuning, although it has also been played in GDgd and AEae tunings.
N:From a transcription by John Lamancusa, by permission http://www.mne.psu.edu/lamancusa/tunes.htm"
When I read the title, I pretty much burst out laughing.
We should get some more old time tunes on this site… actually is there a "TheSession" equivalent for Old Time tunes?
Squirrel heads - Not for those of a delicate constitution
Further notes on the tune from ibiblio:
"Squirrel heads and gravy is a delicacy, said Missouri fiddler Taylor McBaine (1911-1994) of his favorite food: "You get a skillet with those squirrel heads in that gravy; you take a hammer and crack open those skulls and suck out those brains. Now that’s good eatin" (Old Time Herald, vol. 4, No. 5). Missouri fiddler Howard Marshall is of the opinion Germaine was influenced by McBaine in his choice of the title. That squirrel brains were a delicacy to some is well documented. An Associated Press article by Charles Wolfe of 9/8/97 quoted Janet Norris Gates, who said they were the choicest morsels of the game her father once hunted in Tennessee. “’In our family, we saw it as a prized piece of meat, and if he shared it with you, you were pretty happy. Not that he was stingy,’’ said Mrs. Gates, an oral historian in Frankfort, ’but there’s just not much of a squirrel brain.” The article went on to warn that researchers had recently found a possible link between eating squirrel brains and the rare and deadly human variety of mad-cow disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. It has been reported that in some rural traditions small-sized biscuits were called ‘squirrel-heads’. Train on the Island Records, TI‑12, Bovee & Heil ‑ "For Old Times Sake." "
Delicacy my arse, anybody knows there’s nothing worth much on the heads of the things ~ a little bit of cheek meat, and the brains, which don’t amount to much… If you’re going to serves squirrel it is in the body and legs, and especially if you’re also going to make gravy. After skinning and gutting, the carcase is best wrapped in bacon, as there’s no fat on the things per se, You can barbecue them, either on a spit or on the open grill, or wrapped in bacon with your choice of additions and thrown in the coals. You can also smoke them. It ain’t bad in a soup, broth or stew either. Figure at least two to a plate, since there’s generally no shortage, and maybe with a nice mash and well peppered gravy… While waste-not-want-not was the general practice, the heads only figured in making broth amongst reasonable folk ~ elsewhere in the Southeast U.S.A…. But you could just toss the heads. Missouri folk, those sorts, weren’t the butt of jokes for nothin’.
Oops!, missed a part of that recipe:
~ or wrapped in bacon with your choice of additions ~ and all that wrapped in an aluminium foil package ~ and then thrown on to the coals…
I grew up eating squirrels are very tasty. My Grandfather thought we were wasting the brains though.(we didnt eat them like he did)
Doesnt do much for me "Squirell Hunting"… Now thats a TUNE… maybe Ill post it.
"I left Alabama in 1972, son, and I might proudly proclaim that, no sir, I don’t eat tree-rats no more."
Yes, Hunting The Squirrel (as I know it) is a great tune.
Really, though, this subject deserves the talents of "Poisonin’ Pigeons In The Park" Tom Lehrer.
The Piney Creek Weasels did Squirrel Heads and Gravy. "Squirrel Heads in Gravy, Squirrel Heads in sauce, Squirrel Heads in Graveeeeeeyyyyyyy!" Great for sing-along!
Well ‘soft black stars’, love the name by the way, what about the rest of those lyrics? 😏
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