Fly on the Wall joins with other Tennesseans celebrating the life of progressive crusader, eccentric, and serial candidate John Jay Hooker this week. But instead of asking for a moment of silence, we say, "Turn it up!" Hooker first started running for public office in the mid-1960's, during the golden age of the campaign jingle. Although he is no longer with us, the music lives on.
Let's listen, shall we?
Hooker's most ambitious campaign jingle came out in 1966 when he ran for Governor against incumbent Buford Ellington. It doesn't really compare to "What About Frank," the Prisonaires extraordinary homage to Frank Clement, and that's unfortunate for a song that name checks Clement throughout. Of course, there aren't many jingle artists that can measure up to The Prisonaires, and "Watch John Jay," is a fun, fully realized storytelling song inspired by country artists like Johnny Cash and Jimmy Dean's 1961 hit "Big Bad John" in particular.
Watch John Jay... Watch John Jay...
Now Buford and Frank got together one day and said we’d better watch this young John Jay.
He’s young and handsome and honest and clean and he might throw a wrench in our power machine
I don't remember that one. My family moved to Tennessee at the dawn of the 1970's, so the first big ear war between campaign jingles I recall started when Tammy Wynette sang variations on "Stand By Your Man" for Tom Wiseman. Wiseman sought the Democratic nomination in a contest with eventual winner and textbook disgrace, Ray Blanton. Blanton, a West Tennessee native, was raised on country sunshine. So, naturally, ol' "Pardon Me Ray," saw Wiseman's Wynette and raised him a Dottie West.
This one's not a John Jay tune, but as long as we're talking Blanton...