Known throughout country music as “the Guitar Man,” Jerry Reed gained recognition not only for a successful acting career but also as a singer and songwriter. He recorded some fantastic music from the age of eighteen until the later years of his life, including “The Bird.”
“The Bird” was released in 1982 as the lead single from the album of the same name. The song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart just before Christmas.
A Talking Parrot With A Real Future On Music Row
Written by Barry Etris and Hal Coleman, this novelty song features impressions of Willie Nelson’s “Whiskey River” and “On the Road Again” as well as George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
It is told from the point of view of a blue-collar worker who stopped by at a roadside tavern. While there, a gentleman walked in the door with a curious-looking bird on his shoulder. The man, who turned out to be a smooth-talking salesman, walked up to the main character and boasted about the bird’s singing abilities.
“He proceeded to tell me the wildest thing. Sir, this bird of mine can sing. Like no other bird you ever heard before. Well, I kinda looked at the guy and said oh really. He turned to the bird and said, do ole Willie,” the song goes. When the bird started singing Willie Nelson’s “Whiskey River,” the protagonist almost fell on the floor.
Sensing a possibly huge bonanza with this novelty act, the song’s main character asked the salesman to have the bird sing another song. And the bird belted out the chorus of George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
Right then and there, he agreed to buy the bird for five hundred dollars. The deal was closed, and the salesman went running out of the door. Moments later, as he was dreaming about a rewarding career as a novelty act performer, the bird flew out the door, never to be seen again.
It was then that he realized he had been tricked and can only watch helplessly as the bird flew out into the night, singing altered lyrics to Nelson’s “On the Road Again.” “Well then it hit me, and I got boiling made. ‘Cause I knew right then I’d been had. And as he flew off into the night,” he said.
As the verse to “On the Road Again” repeated until fade, Reed can be heard screaming for the bird to come back. You can watch Jerry Reed’s incredible performance of “The Bird” in the video below.