Mudcat Café message #2659641 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #44023   Message #2659641
Posted By: Richie
18-Jun-09 - 03:54 PM
Thread Name: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
Here's an interesting bit about the Morris brothers, who claimed to write the song:

This song was first performed by the Morris Brothers. It was written by Zeke in 1935, and arranged by him and his brother, Wiley. "Salty Dog" seems to have a number of meanings. Wiley's interpretation probably makes the most sense - "I have a different definition of a salty dog than Zeke has. Back when we were kids down in Old Fort we would see a girl we liked and say 'I'd like to be her salty dog.' There also used to be a drink you could get up in Michigan. All you had to do was say 'Let me have a Salty Dog,' and they'd pour you one."

Zeke said of the origins of the song, "I got the idea when we went to a little old honky tonk just outside of Canton which is in North Carolina. We went to play at a school out beyond Waynesville somewhere and we stopped at this place. They sold beer and had slot machines. At that time they were legal in North Carolina. We got in there after the show and got to drinking that beer and playing the slot machines with nickels, dimes and quarters. I think we hit three or four jackpots. Boy, here it would come! You know you had a pile of money when you had two handfuls of change. The name of that place was the 'Salty Dog,' and that's where I got the idea for the song. There's actually more verses to it than me and Wiley sing, a lot more verses."

"Salty Dog" was the most popular number the Morris Brothers ever recorded. According to Wiley, "It's considered a standard. Everybody uses it in the bluegrass field, just about. We're making more money off it now on copyright royalties than we ever did on our record, with other people using it. I reckon that song is known all over the world. When I get my statement every six months, it's being played in every nation under the sun. That song is even popular in Japan! 'Salty Dog' aint one that's gone up to high heaven and then fell completely down. It's just one that's considered a standard. It's our biggest song 'cause it's a good five string banjo number played bluegrass style."