Birds of Paradise


Over at Fader, Scott McClanahan tells us about the time a country music singer completely destroyed his marriage:

I tried explaining it to her as best as I could. I told her Little Jimmy was one of West Virginia’s only country music stars. He was a member of the Grand Ole Opry who they called “Little Jimmy” because he was little and his name was Jimmy. He always performed with an oversized guitar and a tiny rhinestone suit, and he had a few novelty hits. There was one called “Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait.” It was about holding a potato. There was another song called “Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed,” which was a song about sleeping at the foot of the bed.

But my favorite was “May the Bird of Paradise Fly up Your Nose.” It didn’t make any sense and didn’t try to make any sense. In the first verse, the narrator decides to help out a beggar by giving him a penny. Then the narrator loses his coat. The beggar finds it and returns it along with a $100 bill the narrator left in the pocket. Then the narrator tips the beggar a dime for returning the coat and the $100 dollar bill. The chorus is the insult the beggar shouts at the singer of our song: 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.

Bryan Washington has written for Puerto Del Sol, Ninth Letter, and Midnight Breakfast, among others; he's also the recipient of a Houstonia Fellowship. He lives around New Orleans. More from this author →