The outlaw bootlegger is an iconic figure. Nobody in my family ever had a shack back in the trees, but my Grandpa Mac made his own wine and beer. My Grandparents used to wax poetic about the good old days of prohibition. My mom often reminisced about making an illegal delivery with our Auntie Anita and her boyfriend Gino Rolandelli. She was no more than 10 years old at the time. It wasn’t the hills of Tennessee, but it was Baghdad by the Bay. They never went without. They had their hooch.
I do break into a fake yodel in this tune (my “faux yo” as I like to call it.) Long before I stumbled upon the Blue Yodeler, Hank Williams, I was won over by the yodeling of the great Peter Rowan. He lives in our county, so I’ve had ample opportunity to enjoy his music. He often plays with Paul Knight, who plays upright bass on this song and throughout the record.
A few words regarding the verses: Jesus makes a surprise wedding guest appearance. He pops up uninvited in a lot of my songs. I’m not entirely sure why, but he’s always welcome.
The verse with the old Gray Goose is actually a nod to a much older song from England about brewing ale. John Barleycorn taught me that a song can be about two things at once. It’s about both making beer and death and resurrection. After the barleycorn is cut down and is “served most barbarously”, suffering through verse after verse of it’s own unique stations of the cross, we come to this; “They have worked their will on John Barleycorn though he lives to tell the tale. Now they pour him out of an old brown jug and they call him home brewed ale.” Awesome! Praise Jesus!
My homage says “Somebody killed the old grey goose. Threw her in the ruckus juice. She came back as Happy Sally. Sweetest moonshine in this valley. So you see, I am a deeply religious man.
And lastly, there is one seldom sung verse that usually only gets trotted out on my home turf. In California, our number one cash crop has long been stigmatized and has suffered a failed prohibition of it’s own. That verse goes: Way out in Cal-i-forn-eye-yay, That’s where they say crime truly pays. Just plant yerself a couple seeds. Kick back beneath the redwood trees….
"We’re makin’ my own….Just growin’ our own… We’re makin’ our own way through this world~ "