Nicknamed the “Tater” by his Opry peer Hank Williams, Mr. Jimmy Dickens had maintained a sizable career as a first-rate country singer. He released several novelty hits including May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose in 1965. It ranked #1 in the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles and #4 in Canadian RPM Top Singles.

What’s with the song?

Inspired by the curse concept in Johnny Carson’s Carnac the Magnificent role for The Tonight Show, the Tater recounts three stories of him being the subject of ridicule for his wooden stinginess and insensitivity. The first incident was with a beggar who received a penny from him. Then later that day, he rewarded the honest laundry man 10 cents for phoning him about the $100 bill left on his clothes. Finally, he got a cabbie into trouble for speeding in an effort to make him catch his train. He only ignored the matter and had the nerve to wait for his change. In return, these poor guys could only utter curses on him as heard in the chorus:

May the bird of paradise fly up your nose/May an elephant caress you with his toes/May your wife be plagued with runners in her hose/May the bird of paradise fly up your nose

In totality, it is a humorous ode but is not meant to entertain only. It also has its moralistic value. Oftentimes, when you are generous and considerate to people, they shower you with good tidings. But if you do the opposite, they will rain you with scorn.

Word and music by Neal Meritt, it is a good fit for the Tater’s good-natured image. Just as he did not have hang-ups with his small stature, so did he not have a problem making fun of himself in May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose.

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