This brings up an important question I need your help with…
Is “wild ox moan” some kind of code word for sex?
The history of this particular song is kind of obscure. The best I’ve been able to dig up is this:
It seems like some kind of folk tune that came out of the deep deeeeeep South in the first half of the last century.
I’m a sucker for a good male falsetto, which totally explains my affection for James Mercer, Jim James, Neil Young, and a number of other rock musicians. I’m also very interested in songs that have been covered a lot. For example, if you want to spend a fascinating hour or two listening to music, search any music streaming service for The Ship Song, listen to the original by Nick Cave, and then listen to the dozen or so covers of that song.
Wild Ox Moan has a similar number of covers by a variety of artists, and also has this great part where the vocal melody jumps up an octave or two in the middle of a word and thereby pretty much excludes any male singer who can’t pull off a good falsetto. The versions of Wild Ox Moan by Chris Whitley and Big Sugar are my favorites.
Anyway, if you have any insider knowledge of folk music from the deep South or Southern folkways in general, I really want to know: Is “wild ox moan” some kind of code word for sex?
Send me an email here and let me know.