When I was a kid, my grandpap on my mom’s side had chickens in an old shed behind the house. I loved feeding them table scraps and watching them fight over old cantaloupe rinds and all those parts of dinner we should have eaten but didn’t. I can remember the very distinctive smell of the henhouse when we would venture in looking for eggs in the morning. Grandpap ate eggs for breakfast, everyday.
For the past ten years, I have been threatening my wife with chickens. I am obsessed with the idea of going out the backdoor and grabbing some eggs. We live in town but we have plenty of space for 3 or 4 hens. Every time I bring it up, she reminds me of my pathological fear of birds. I counter with the argument that chickens are not birds but technically classified as food. Despite my very solid reasoning and general obsession, we still don’t have chickens. I just don’t have time for another hobby.
If our daily bread was at stake, it would be easy to make time for chickens. Maybe when the kids are older.
My wife had three old maid aunts and an old bachelor uncle who lived and worked on a small family farm. They had chickens by default. Aunt Francis took this picture of some chickens and a duck . A print of this photo is prominently displayed on the wall of my studio next to my first banjo and my favorite old Stetson hat.
I wrote a song about chickens.
I wrote and recorded this five song project over a weekend, I think it was March 2011. I use the term “wrote” very loosely, it includes one traditional song and a cover of a song by my friend Jerome. I was learning how to play my first tenor banjo. It’s vintage, which is the nice way of saying old but not in the good way, and the frets are not quite right. It works fine as long as you don’t move up the neck beyond the first three frets. It was a fun project.
Henhouse is a pretty straight forward song. I would love to say it contains a deeper metaphor but it’s really about chickens, eggs, and a song. If anybody has any ideas about a deeper meaning, I would love to hear them. (My friend Jesse wrote a great analysis of this song. Check it out here or here.)
My kids love this song. We regularly grab the guitar and indulge in a living room dance party that always begins and ends with Hen House. So stand up, listen to the song, and dance like a chicken. Don’t worry, no one is watching.
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