Don Woody

You're Barking Up the Wrong Tree

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It’s not that Don Woody was a reluctant rock star. He was fine with it, actually, but it just wasn’t anything he’d exactly planned on being. He’d started as a radio DJ while still in high school and had his own standup comedy routine that he took to local clubs, and while he had a passion for drums (and played them quite well), music was just one of many hats he had the choice of wearing on any given day. While he was in college, Woody wrote a dozen or so songs with his roommate Paul Simmons, and the pair made demos of them. By this time Woody was working as a warm-up act on the Ozark Jubilee show hosted by Red Foley, and had met his manager, Gary Walker. Walker hustled the tapes to Decca Records, and one of the songs, “Bigelow 6-200,” became Brenda Lee's debut single in 1956. Suddenly Woody found himself in a recording studio for Decca, where he cut the soon to be immortal “You’re Barking Up the Wrong Tree” and three other tracks from the small Woody-Simmons catalog. Just like that, Woody was a rockabilly performer. Unfortunately, “You’re Barking Up the Wrong Tree” didn’t have a lot of success as a single, and Decca pulled the rug. Woody recorded a couple more tracks two years later in 1958 for Arco Records, but nothing came of those, either, and Woody's working rockabilly days appeared over. He took a job with the Sears Company, eventually working his way up to a regional vice-president position before he retired in 1991. That would be the story, except serious rockabilly fans and record collectors never forgot “You’re Barking Up the Wrong Tree,” and Woody caught an improbable second act as a rockabilly singer on the nostalgia circuit. This 11-track set from Bear Family Records has Woody's entire recorded legacy, as well as the original single versions of “Bigelow 6-200” by Brenda Lee and “The Rope,” another Woody-Simmons composition, by Billy Eustis. Rock & roll never forgets, or so it’s been said and sung, and in Don Woody's case, all the memories for remembrance are right here, and it appears he well may have been barking up the right tree after all.

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