No. 47: Daveigh Chase Sings “The Happiest Girl In The Whole U.S.A.” On HBO’s “Big Love”

So, why did they move that bojangle clock so far away from the bed? And what’s a bojangle clock, anyway? Mr. Bojangles danced for those at minstrel shows and county fairs throughout the South, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band told us once, and in this remarkably unadorned, still-officially-unavailable-on-mp3 rendition of still-a-schoolteacher-at-the-time Donna Fargo’s No. 11 1972 country-crossover pop hit, adolescent actress Daveigh Chase reminds us it’s a skippity-do-dah day, which sounds an awful lot like zippedee-doo-dah, so: Song of the South, right?

Except the excellent suburban-Mormon-polygamy drama Big Love has nothing to do with thinly veiled post-Reconstruction-era racism; Chase’s character Rhonda Volmer is just your usual vicitmized teen cult-compound junior-wife-to-be and iPod-burglarizing evil devil child, and with her aged fiancé Harry Dean Stanton looking on from his sickbed, she wears her plain old-timey dress and stares deadpan straight into the camera and bats this never quite trustworthy song out of the ballpark, sending shivers down spines even while pledging to share marital lunch-making duties. (And yeah, technically, Season 2 Episode 10 aired in late summer ’07, but we’re living on Netflix time here, ok?)

Choice YouTube-comment exchange: “When I saw this I thought this was by The Dixie Chicks.” “Which Dixie Chick did you think it was?” “The lead singer with the big mouth.” Choice YouTube comment: “Vote no on prop 8.”

Daveigh Chase, “The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA” [YouTube]
Big Love [HBO]
80 ’08 (and Heartbreak)

  • Maura Johnston

    This show is SO GREAT.

  • Audif Jackson Winters III

    Yeah, missing the upcoming season is pretty much the only reason I’m bummed that I cancelled HBO. But hey, I held out for the last season of The Wire on DVD, so I can do this too.

  • Anonymous

    Slightly off topic, but just to point out that sure, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band covered Mr. Bojangles– pretty much every good song they did was a cover, and btw their Bojangles cover is hardly the best version– but it’s a Jerry Jeff Walker song. Props to the originators, please! :-)

  • MayhemintheHood

    Awesome show. HBO shows have the coolest songs, in my opinion.

  • Lucas Jensen

    @MayhemintheHood: When they played tindersticks on the Sopranos I was flabbergasted!

  • MayhemintheHood

    @Lucas Jensen: The Sopranos introduced me to some great tunes, like Wade Robson’s “Dolphins In The Sea”.

    Big Love usually has well known songs, but they also throw in some that I’m googling for as soon as the episode’s over. I’d almost want to live on the compound so I could hear Harry Dean Stanton sing and play guitar every now and then.

    Entourage plays cool music, but it’s usually just whatever is being talked about on the internet at the time they add the music…at least that’s my theory.

  • MayhemintheHood

    Oh, and not to mention the Big Love episode that had Jay and the American’s “This Magic Moment” then the Misfits version(it wasn’t the REAL Misfits, but still kinda cool).

  • Nicolars

    She was the voice of Lilo in Lilo and Stitch, so that made this even more disturbing to me.

  • bcapirigi

    I recently did a radio show where I asked for requests of songs about America and somebody suggested this one… I’d never heard it before.

  • TheRunningboard7

    I dream of the day someone shanks Rhonda.

  • Marin Acoda

    I really really really want to buy this song. Somehow, some way…

  • allysonj2000

    She also does a mean version of Battle of New Orleans. And many thanks to the person who wrote the original post. It gave me a new perspective on the show.

    • allysonj2000

      Oops make that City of New Orleans…