The story I got on Steve Rosen’s 1985 composition, Nail That Catfish To The Tree, goes this way: The author was on the banks of the Mississippi River watching a fisherman who hauled out, after a tremendous struggle, a huge channel catfish.
Now, I mean catfish are ugly but a channel cat is that ugly and really big. We’re talking 300-plus pounds or more! Steve involuntarily exclaimed, “I wonder how you skin one of those monsters?” The fisherman overheard and, without missing a beat, said, “There’s only one way to skin a channel cat. You’ve got to nail that catfish to the tree.” He then proceeded to detail how to slice around the gills and then, using a pair of vice grips, how to pull the skin off from head to tail.
Of course, his initial words immediately seemed like a perfect name for a fiddle tune to Steve. This may or may not be a true account but it makes a good fish story. You’ll have to ask Steve Rosen.
Forked Deer is just one of those great old tunes with a lot of good dance energy. I like to play on the lower octave with the 1980 Ed Moss 5-string fiddle and this was one of the first tunes I transposed into that low, low basement register. Of course, Peggy plays the piano and Patty used her antique wooden flute on this cut. I think that the false modulation to the dominant five chord in the second part is very cool, too.