One of my lifelong goals is to make sure that everyone knows about the song “Mississippi Squirrel Revival” by Ray Stevens.
It is one of those weird and quirky country comedy songs from the 80s that is utterly ridiculous but insanely smart in its language and humor.
Essentially, the song is about this kid who goes to his grandma’s church with a squirrel he caught. One thing leads to another, and the squirrel gets loose, causing chaos and a revival in its wake:
“The day the squirrel went berserk
In the First Self-Righteous Church
In that sleepy little town of Pascagoula
It was a fight for survival
That broke out in revival
They were jumpin’ pews and shouting Hallelujah!”
This song is a masterclass at using specificity, which is one of the greatest things about country music. Now, I’m not saying other genres don’t have specific lyrics, but country really is the best at creating a sense of place.
How many of Charles Wesley Godwin’s songs are able to transport us to the mountains, and Ashley McBryde’s songs take us to a small southern town?
Well, Ray Stevens is able to place us right smack dab into the middle of a small southern church. One that I am sure so many of us went to with our own grandparents growing up.
Personally, I went to a Baptist church growing up, and I cannot express how accurate Sister Bertha is. I don’t know if I knew anyone with a grocery list of former church lovers, but there were definitely a whole slew of little old ladies who were front pew gossips with a holier than thou personality:
“All the way down to the amen pew
Where sat Sister Bertha better-than-you
Who’d been watchin’ all the commotion with sadistic glee
But you should’ve seen the look in her eyes
When that squirrel jumped her garters and crossed her thighs
She jumped to her feet and said “Lord have mercy on me”
As the squirrel made laps inside her dress
She began to cry and then to confess to sins that would make a sailor blush with shame”
Now, of course, after Sister Bertha’s numerous confessions, the entire church is forcefully spiraled into a full blown revival with baptisms, rededications, and many people getting saved.
Another perfect aspect of the comedy in this song is the increasingly ridiculous numbers of church members and goers that have such a wide range it’s impossible they’re accurate.
It’s just icing on the cake of absurdity that is this song.
You’ve just gotten listen to it if you haven’t already. It’s one of those songs that you can’t be in a bad mood after listening to.