Rock and roll historians recently discovered that the lyrics to the Beverly Hillbillies theme song, Ballad of Jed Clampett, by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, were meant to be sung to the tune of Mary Lou, by Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks. No one knows why the mix-up, but CLICK HERE if you need to be reminded of the tune to Mary Lou. CLICK HERE if you need to be reminded of the tune to Ballad of Jed Clampett.
The lyrics to Mary Lou go like this. I’m going to tell you a story about a Mary Lou I mean the kind of a woman who makes a fool of you She makes a young man groan and an old man pain The way she took my money was a crying shame (a Mary Lou) She took my diamond ring (a Mary Lou) She took my watch and chain (a Mary Lou) She took the keys to my Cadillac car Jumped in my Kitty and she drove afar.
Mary Lou, the song, then goes on for two more verses as Ronnie Hawkins tells us about how Mary Lou, the woman, continued her gold-digging ways.
Based upon the lyrics to Mary Lou, especially the (a Mary Lou) refrain, rock and roll historians now think that the Ballad of Jed Clampett, to the original tune of Mary Lou, may have gone like this.
I’m going to tell you a story about a man named Jed, A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed. And then one day he was shootin’ at some food When up from the ground come a-bubblin’ crude. (A man named Jed) He had no diamond ring. (A man named Jed) He had no watch and chain. (A man named Jed) He had no keys to a Cadillac car, So little did he know he’s gonna go real far.
Next thing ya know ol’ Jed’s a millionaire Kinfolk said, “Jed move away from there.” Said “California is the place you ought to be,” J So he loaded up the truck and he moved to Berk-e-ley. (A man named Jed) He bought a tie-dyed-tee. (A man named Jed) He took philosophy. (A man named Jed) He grew his hair til it was quite long, Traded Granny’s corncob and he got her a bong.
Now it’s time to say goodbye to Jed and all his kin. They would like to thank you folks fer kindly droppin in. You’re all invited back next week to this locality To have a heapin helpin of their hospitality. (A man named Jed) You’ll always find him home. (A man named Jed) He can no longer roam. (A man named Jed) He has no key to his rusty old truck Cause Granny jumped behind the wheel and drove amuck.
The last time Jed saw her she was standin on a hill Waving her hanky at Buffalo Bill. Bill tried to escape her but he did so in vain Granny’s white lightnin’ plumb drives him insane. (A man named Jed) Now Granny’s moved away. (A man named Jed) And so has Elly May . (A man named Jed) He has no key to a rusty rental truck Cause Jethro jumped behind the wheel and drove amuck.
You can see the damage done. Had the tune to Mary Lou been used for the Ballad of Jed Clampett, we would have had a much richer and longer song. The refrain, (A man named Jed), would have allowed the story to go on and on, matching the words to weekly episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies.
Mr. Drysdale constantly drove amuck as he tried to maintain Jed’s $96 million in his bank. The same with his secretary, Jane Hathaway, as she chased after Jethro. Jethro drove amuck as he tried to find a profession, for example, astronaut. Ellie Mae couldn’t decide whether she’d rather live with the critters at the mansion or the critters at the zoo. Granny’s romance with Buffalo Bill was short-lived. She returned to the Berkeley mansion where she started a catering service. Didn’t think Californians had enough good vittles. And to all of it, Jed would have said, “Well, doggies!”
Also, to sing the words of Mary Lou to the tune of the Ballad of Jed Clampett gives that story a different flavor.