Sometimes you find the most bizarre things…and this one wasn’t even on the Internet yet!
While working on “music supervision” for Special Friends, I started digging around for weird songs about Ohio, particularly, and this was a longshot – Austintown, OH (as it was the destination in our special Stamp by Stamp West episode). I didn’t find anything on the Internet and on a total whim, I called my friend Rick who used to work at the Ohio State Archives. He told me about “Toothless” Joe McGee, a fellow who was apparently so disgruntled with Ohio in the 1920s that he used all of his savings to record songs about how much he hated Ohio. He even submitted one to a state song contest in 1928. Amazingly enough, he had also written a song about Austintown, though I can’t figure out if it has any historical basis. He claims the town was formed by criminals from Pennsylvania, but that doesn’t seem likely to be true. Nonetheless, this set me off on a hunt for more about Joe. Rick helped me track down his son, Johnny McGee, who, at age 87 still apparently has some teeth – and apparently doesn’t hate Ohio as much as his father did! After talking to the very hard of hearing Johnny on the phone, I got his blessing to share Joe’s work. Johnny had some files in the attic with some old recordings and now Rick has set off to digitize them. So far, we’ve got just a few restored (as best we could) and others on the way. We have 10 songs discovered, but there might be more in a storage unit in Austintown!
Here’s what we’ve got so far: