James Cecil Dickens -- better known as Little Jimmy Dickens -- was a household name in the 1940s, '50s and '60s. The country singer and songwriter was as famous for his novelty songs and his fashion sense as he was for his stature (he stood 4'11" tall, hence his stage name).
Dickens started as a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1948 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983. In between, he released eight studio albums and dozens upon dozens of singles. The country artist remained an Opry fixture until his death, at the age of 94, in early 2015.
Below, The Boot ranks our five favorite of Dickens' songs. Read on to hear 'em.
"The Violet and a Rose"From 'Little Jimmy Dickens Sings Out Behind the Barn' (1962)
After an eight-year dry spell, “The Violet and a Rose” became Dickens’ first Top 10 single since 1954. From 1962’s Little Jimmy Dickens Sings Out Behind the Barn, “The Violet and a Rose” is a more straightforward love waltz than many of Dickens’ earlier, sillier offerings. Still, it’s a Dickens song, so there has to be a twist -- and in this case, it's that one of the two pairs of lovers in the song aren’t people, but, literally, a violet and a rose.
"Hillbilly Fever"Single (1950)
“Hillbilly Fever” came early in Dickens’ career, and became a No. 3 hit. According to the song's lyrics, “Hillbilly Fever” is what happens when “you go and see a doctor and he says poke out your tongue / And he looks into that canyon, tells you, 'Brother, I got news / You're the victim, oh, sweet buddy, and you got the lovesick blues.'” Its one of the best-known songs in Dickens' catalog.
"I'm Little, But I'm Loud"Single (1950)
Another Dickens classic, “I’m Little, But I’m Loud" is, in a way, a thesis statement for the artist's career and persona -- not just in the obvious ways, but also in the way the song exemplifies his lighthearted, self-deprecating humor. In “I’m Little, But I’m Loud,” Dickens takes the personal and turns it into something many of his listeners could relate to, declaring in the chorus, “I’m little, but I’m loud / I’m poor, but I’m proud / I’m countrified, and I don’t care who knows it.”
"Take an Old Cold Tater (and Wait)"Single (1949)
“Take an Old Cold Tater (and Wait)” was Dickens' very first single -- and it was so memorable that it prompted Hank Williams to nickname the diminutive singer “Tater.” The song gets it title (and central message) from a phrase that Dickens’ mother used to use: As he explains in the song, “When I was a little boy around the table at home / I remember very well when company would come / I would have to be right still until the whole crowd ate / My mama always said to me, 'Jim, take a 'tater and wait.'” Then, in classic Dickens style, he continues the story, explaining, “why I look so bad and have these puny ways” is because of eating -- you guessed it -- too many cold potatoes.
"May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose"From 'May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose' (1965)
Dickens didn’t record this signature song -- a catchy, goodhearted kiss-off -- until later in his career. Every person the track's narrator does wrong receives this humorous curse: “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.” The 1965 single from the album of the same name was Dickens’ only No. 1 hit.