If you’re ever in a honky-tonk and the jukebox needs feeding, look for a lively little ditty titled “Blackie and the Jack Minor Band,” written and recorded by Mt. Juliet’s Randall Haley.
“I doubt that you’ll find it,” Haley said. “There were only 1,100 copies made, and I’ve given a lot of them away.”
It’s a long story, so we’ll start at the beginning:
Blackie was the name of Haley’s faithful old lab.
Jack Minor was famous for banding ducks to track their migrations, starting in 1909.
The “band” referred to in the song is a duck band, not a music band.
Haley and Blackie were hunting on Percy Priest Lake one morning in 2005 when they bagged a mallard with a metal band on its leg. Jack Minor’s grandson, who carries on the family legacy from his Canadian hometown, put it there.
The greenhead was banded seven years earlier in Kingsville, Ontario. That’s a long way from Percy Priest Lake, and the mallard had made seven annual round trips. Well, six and a half.
Minor duck bands include a Bible verse, along with the banding date. The tiny inscription on the band on Haley’s mallard was from Revelations 22:7, “Behold I come quickly.”
Haley, who was familiar with the legend of Minor, was intrigued. He sat down and wrote a song about it. He recorded it and six other outdoor-themed songs in a Hermitage studio. Haley did the singing, and a studio band played the instruments.
Haley contacted the Minor family beforehand to ask permission to record a song about their famous patriarch, and after the album came out, he mailed them a copy.
They were delighted with it. So delighted, in fact, that they invited Haley to Ontario for a visit.
Next thing he knew, he was the grand marshal in a parade in Kingsville and taken on a duck hunting trip as a guest of the Minors. And it wasn’t just any duck hunt. It was in a marsh once hunted by American icons Ty Cobb and Henry Ford.
“It was pretty impressive for a country boy who grew up in Cannon County,” Haley said. “About the only thing my family was famous for was making good moonshine.”
An avid outdoorsman since he was four, Haley is now 72, retired from BellSouth, and doesn’t duck hunt as much as he used to.
“My old dog, Blackie, died a couple of years ago,” he says. “That kind of took the enjoyment out of it for me.”
Haley still tags along on occasional Wilson County rabbit hunts, one of which was filmed recently for the Southern Woods & Waters television show.
Meanwhile, the ballad of Blackie and the old duck bander is forever memorialized in song, even if it’s not playing in your local jukebox.
Longtime outdoors columnist Larry Woody is a three-time winner of the Tennessee Sports Writer of the Year award and is the author of several books, including “Along for The Ride.” Woody covered NASCAR from the early 1960s until late 2007 in addition to SEC sports, minor league baseball, the Tennessee Titans and the Vanderbilt Commodores.