4

There is a Ray Stevens song titled "Shriner's Convention" which, at around 1:05 in the linked version, contains the following one-sided phone conversation between two characters:

"Coy, why aren't you at the parade? What? Well, how'd you get that big Harley up there in your room?"

"What? I can't hear ya' Coy! Quit revvin' it up, boy! Turn it off! I just want you to know one thing: You have embarrassed us all, the whole Hahira delegation!"

"Now I'll see you at the banquet, son. And you be there Coy, you hear me? Black tie, seven o'clock! Be there Coy! And Coy, don't answer the phone, 'udden udden!'"

What is the meaning of "udden udden" in this context? At first glance it appears to be an onomatopoeic sound that a car or motorcycle engine might make, which makes sense since Coy has a motorcycle in his hotel room. The part that doesn't make sense is how Coy could have answered the phone in a motorcycle-like manner, and what prompted such an admonishment from the speaker in the first place.

This motorcycle theory is supported by some cursory research; the book "The Great Possum-Squashing and Beer Storm of 1962: Reflections on the Remains of My Country" by Fred Reed contains an instance of "udden udden" referring to the sounds of a car's engine. Aside from that, my searches haven't turned up much of anything.

I'm not even positive of the spelling. Some transcriptions of the lyrics have it as "uddn'uddn," and others omit the quotes around these words. If it is indeed a southern/rural contraction or slang term, it's not one I've ever heard.

  • Maybe he actually answered the phone by picking up the receiver and then revving his motorcycle. – Jim Aug 19 '17 at 19:06
4

So, I can't find much online either regarding 'udden, udden', nor am I sure what the correct spelling would be, but it's definitely a reference to reving the engine. I'm from rural NW Tennessee, and this is the onomatopoeia my mother uses with small children when playing with cars or other engine-powered vehicles (she's lived her whole life in that area).

I've also seen it used often with a motorcycle throttle hand motion. Generally a "double rev" for lack of a better description, where the timing is such that the 'ud' is timed with the twist back to rev up, and the 'en' is the return to idle.

And yes, I believe 'answering the phone udden udden' means when he picked up the receiver, the engine was revving on the motorcycle'

Edit: Here's an example from Bobby Allison (a famous NASCAR driver) discussing his son's first non-crying sound being an engine.

"He was my little buddy from really early on," Bobby Allison said. "He would sit on that seat beside me, those little eyes just wide open, looking around. And the first noise I ever heard out of him, other than a baby crying, was 'Uddn, Uddn.' I said, 'That boy is all right!'

  • 2
    Superb! But I think that both your mother's usage and the Allison story reinforce what has always been my own understanding, which is that Coy is so absorbed in his Harleian universe that he habitually answers the phone with the words Udd'n, udd'n instead of Hello. – StoneyB Aug 19 '17 at 19:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.