Ondatra Zibethicus Rock
:: Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon – Muskrat Ramble ::
Rock and Roller Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon hit the US Billboard Top 100 chart 22 times between 1959 and 1966. He's best known for the Chuck Barris written, "Palisades Park", which peaked at #3 in 1962. I had never heard "Muskrat Ramble" until finding the Swan single a few weeks ago, and really dug that bass drum thump. This is fun, rough, rock and roll from 1960.
The song actually started out as a ragtime jazz standard. Louis Armstrong recorded it first in 1926 with his Hot Five, writing credits going to Kid Ory and Ray Gilbert. It's more likely the type of song that was played by bands before actually being written down, as many New Orleans musicians claimed to have been playing it prior to the 1920's. Sidney Bechet said the song was based on an old folk tune called, "The Old Cow Died and Brock Cried." In any event, Country Joe McDonald seems to have borrowed liberally from the song for his biggest hit, "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag," which became an anti-war rallying cry after performing it at Woodstock (one-two-three, what are we fighting for...). It's what first came to mind when I heard the Cannon version, and I've since heard Louis Armstrong's and Sidney Bechet's versions and there's no denying its damn similar to Muskrat. Country Joe denies it, though, in a statement on his website, saying it's "my original song" though it's "based on traditions of rag music." He was recently sued by Kid Ory's daughter, and he won. That victory had more to do with the statute of limitations, rather than merits of originality. So much for peace, love and understanding when it comes to royalties, I guess.