1. Archive

Hootenanny meaning is a real hoot

Question: I read with interest your discussion recently about the word "hootenanny." The story that I heard concerning the origin of the term is that when Hoot Gibson was a young cowboy star and performer, he and his wife, Annie, gave some wonderful parties. Everybody that came had a great time and there was always music, with everyone joining in. Jam sessions went on until all hours of the morning.

It got so that these parties were the place to be and everybody anticipated the next one. When asked where the party was, the reply of course was, "at Hoot 'n' Annie's." Lynn A. Javoroski, Milwaukee

Answer: Though the etymology of "hootenanny" seems unknown, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition, does assign a date of 1929 to the word. Hoot Gibson would have been about 37 that year, and in the midst of his glory years as an actor.

Since the definition of hootenanny is "a gathering at which folk singers entertain often with the audience joining in," it is believable such an event took place at Hoot and Annie's joint. Unfortunately I was not on their "A" list.

Though these details do not necessarily confirm your story, they certainly allow for it to be possible.

The story of "Kay' remembered

Question: I have been looking a long time for the name of the singer of a country song from the late '60s called, I think, Music City. I used to hear it when I was stationed in Wichita, Kan.

It is about a cab driver in Nashville, Tenn., and he is singing about all the things he sees late one night. It ends with him having as a fare a girl giving birth. He rushes her to the doctor where she names the baby after him.

Around 1972 I saw Jerry Jeff Walker at the Quiet Knight in Chicago, and thought it was his song and asked him about it. All I accomplished was embarrassing myself. My wife won't let me forget that, so I'd love to get the real answer. Tony Armalis, Berwyn, Ill.

Answer: Much of what you recall is accurate, but I will fill in the gaps for you.

The title of the song is Kay, and it is a late 1968 release by John Wesley Ryles (Columbia 44682). Kay is the name of the taxi driver's former girlfriend.

As the story goes, they were a happy young couple in Houston, but Kay had singing talent and getting to Nashville _ also known as "Music City" _ is all she talked about. He sold everything he owned to take her there, where she became famous and he got the shaft.

Thus he winds up driving a cab to make ends meet. Of course, he is tortured hearing her latest hits on the radio: "Kay, I'm livin' yet I'm dyin', staring out at Music City from my cab!"

Ten years later, Ryles remade Kay (ABC 12375), and had another chart hit with it, though not nearly as successful as the first time around.

It's a great story in song. I'm glad you brought it up, although the entire world now knows you blew it with Jerry Jeff.

Origin of

"Easy Listening'

Question: When did the Easy Listening chart begin? What was its first No. 1 hit? Chevonne Little, Harrisonburg, Va.

Answer: Billboard's first Easy Listening chart came along the week ending July 17, 1961. It's purpose was to rank soft rock and pop tunes, most of which also appeared on the Hot 100. The first Easy Listening No. 1 is The Boll Weevil Song, by Brook Benton. On the Hot 100 that same week, this record ranked No. 2, behind Bobby Lewis' Tossin' & Turnin'.

IZ ZAT SO? According to Joel Whitburn's Top Adult Contemporary Hits, here are the all-time (1961-1993) Top 5 artists for charted singles hits:

1. Barbra Streisand. 2. Neil Diamond. 3. Elvis Presley. 4. Frank Sinatra. 5. Johnny Mathis.

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column. Write Jerry at Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368, e-mail:, or visit his Web site: http:// All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.

1999, World Features Syndicate Inc.