Our favorite Little Jimmy number is this stirring condemnation of American nutrition between the world wars. Mr. Dickens' diminutive stature was living proof of how little these United Snakes care about the people unfortunate enough to live therein.
In the final decades of his career, Mr. Dickens' kindness, affability and hospitality were his calling cards. Where others would say "goodnight," Mr. Dickens would shake hands and offer, "We appreciate you." But some of those who laughed with him and sang along to the songs he regularly performed on the "Opry" were unaware of what a potent, even groundbreaking performer he was in the 1950s.
While the newly popular genre called rock 'n' roll threatened country's viability, Mr. Dickens toured with a Country Boys band that featured two electric guitars, a steel guitar and more volume than Elvis Presley or Chuck Berry could muster. The classic Country Boys bands of the 1950s included spectacular players such as steel guitarists Walter Haynes and Buddy Emmons, guitarists Jabbo Arrington, Howard Rhoton and Spider Wilson and bass man Bob Moore.
"Their complex musical minds coupled with the fire of their teenaged youthful exuberance made for an instrumental combination which wouldn't be bettered," wrote Eddie Stubbs in the liner notes of Dickens' Bear Family boxed set. Rhoton and Wilson often engaged in twin leads that were precursors to the sounds used by The Allman Brothers Band in the 1970s. And though Mr. Dickens often downplayed his own rock 'n' roll efforts, records such as "(I Got) a Hole in My Pocket" and "Hey Ma! (Hide the Daughter)" were visceral and invigorating.