“I Don’t Give a Hoot” by Slim Jim
The Norwegian American brothers Ernest “Slim Jim” and Clarence “the Vagabond Kid” Iverson were born, respectively, in 1903 and 1905 near Binford, North Dakota. After their mother’s death in 1910, their father hired Molly Ruud, a Norwegian immigrant, to keep house. Fortuitously for the boys, she was a guitar player with a large repertoire of Norwegian songs, and the boys learned songs and the rudiments of guitar-playing from here. Ernest dropped out of high school to play guitar with a traveling wild west show, where his lanky 6’4″ frame earned his lasting nickname. Performing sometimes and sometimes working as an oil field hand in Texas boomtowns, he was convinced by an injury on the job to follow a career in radio. After stints in Wichita Falls and Omaha, he returned to the Upper Midwest in the early 1930s where he and his brother Clarence became stars on the Minneapolis radio station WDGY. Combining a daily radio show with regional performances, the pair entertained listeners with cowboy songs, sentimental recitations, comic novelty numbers, and hymns in English, along with occasional ballads, seasonal songs, and paeans to mother and home in Norwegian. Perhaps most popular of all were their comic performances of “Scandihoovian” dialect songs like “John Johnson’s Wedding,” and “The Whistling, Drifting Snow”–classic performances that continue to be sung throughout the Upper Midwest. Clarence ceased performing in public in 1948, but in the 1950s Ernest Iverson made a series of recordings as Slim Jim on California’s FM label, including the popular song, “I Just Don’t Give a Hoot.” After his death in 1958, the SOMA label of Minneapolis released an LP, Slim Jim Sings Nikolina And Other Favorites, comprised of studio performances, some of which included the Vagabond Kid.