Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Fishin' Hole

This is not one of those things that I didn't know but was afraid to ask. In my case, it's one of those things I didn't know, but never thought to ask.

Who was the whistler?

It's probably one of the most recognizable of TV theme songs. Thanks to syndicated reruns, the program has transcended the generations and continues to draw viewers.

Andy Griffith Show Theme Song

I decided to look it up to find the name of the person who was whistling during the opening credits of the program. That's when I learned for the first time that there were actually lyrics for the tune! Titled, The Fishin' Hole, the following video is a recording of Andy Griffith himself singing the song.

The Andy Griffith Show Theme Song Lyrics

The Fishin' Hole

Well, now, take down your fishin' pole and meet me at The Fishin' Hole,
We may not get a bite all day, but don't you rush away.

What a great place to rest your bones and mighty fine for skippin' stones,
You'll feel fresh as a lemonade, a-settin' in the shade.

Whether it's hot, whether it's cool, oh what a spot for whistlin' like a fool.

What a fine day to take a stroll and wander by The Fishin' Hole,
I can't think of a better way to pass the time o' day.

We'll have no need to call the roll when we get to The Fishin' Hole,
There'll be you, me, and Old Dog Trey, to doodle time away.

If we don't hook a perch or bass, we'll cool our toes in dewy grass,
Or else pull up a weed to chaw, and maybe set and jaw.

Hangin' around, takin' our ease, watchin' that hound a-scratchin' at his fleas.

Come on, take down your fishin' pole and meet me at The Fishin' Hole,
I can't think of a better way to pass the time o' day.

Music by Earle Hagen & Herbert W. Spencer
Words by Everett Sloane

While looking for the elusive name of the whistler, I found that are many avian characters out there who are quite adept at "covering" the tune.

So? Who was the whistler?

As it turns out, the identity of the whistler is indeed elusive. The majority of the sites I visited give credit to Earl Hagen, the composer of the music. According to one site, Mr. Hagen with his son snapping his fingers in the background came up with the whistling tune in a one-hour recording session.

There are references to two other possible whistlers, Fred Lowrey and Jerry Duane.

Lowrey, a recording artist, was the most successful whistler of the 40s and 50s. His whistling is heard in such recordings as "Indian Love Call" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds." His credentials certainly make him worthy of consideration.

Duane, despite his claims as being the whistler, appears to be a red herring in this fact-finding exercise. He is cited as being known for whistling in Pepsi and Old Spice commercials.

So, I decided to look into the links for the Old Spice commercials. There, I found that Jean "Toots" Thilemans whistled for the fragrance product. There was no mention of Jerry Duane.

It seemed that "Toots" Thielemans had a lot of credits to his name. Scanning the article on this man ...

... Uh-oh!
He is the whistler of the theme of The Andy Griffith Show!!
By the way, and for the record, I learned all of these accurate facts without using Wikipedia.

So? Just who was the whistler?

To my way of thinking, I'm going to eliminate the least likely of the names - Jerry Duane. He strikes me as a man who is a very good whistler and who tries to get attention by claiming it is he who is heard on the TV show. Just my humble opinion.

I think also that I'll cross off the names of the two professional recording artists, Lowrey and Thielemans. Why? If either of these men were given credit, then they would be entitled to receive royalties. Even at a rate of pennies, that number times the number of times the program has run since it originally aired and the number of times it has aired in syndication ... would earn the artist quite a few Benjamins.

Now, if I was the song writer who would receive his own royalties, why not be credited as the artist also? Makes sense to me.

While I'm not generally given to let my imagination run wild, I don't think I want to rule out the bird! After all, what would Polly want? Crackers?

Hmmm ... It turns out that, conclusively, I'm no closer to the real identity of the whistler than I was when I started.

You know what? I'm think I'll just ... take down my fishin' pole and meet Andy at The Fishin' Hole.



Sandee said...

I've heard the whistle one but this is the first I've heard Andy sing it.

I did think you were going to tell me how the whistler was, but alas you don't really know either. A mystery.

I loved that show and watched every single episode.

Have a terrific day. :)

Hale McKay said...


When I was looking for the identity of the whistler I had no intentions of my efforts turning into a post. It was only when there appeared to be some confusion and lack of certainty that it prompted me to post.

Unknown said...

My grandfather was Fred Lowery, the whistler, he performed that song but did not do the actual recording for the show.

Unknown said...

My second cousin was Jerry Duane Deavenport, who went by the stage name Jerry Duane. Jerry was quite a performer on "Hit Parade" and singer/dancer with Gene Krupa's band, Frank Sinatra's band as back up vocals and dozens of other acts. He did a LOT of singing and whistling.
I talked to him last in the mid 90s, and he said that we was STILL getting royalty payments for new uses of "The Fishing Hole" (after the royalty laws changed and artists were not being paid for prior performances as they were)
So regardless of WHO they claim was the "Andy Griffith Whistler" Jerry was still listed as the original performer and being paid for it. Keep in mind though that there were several versions of the song during its run.