This country music legend gained his popularity as an artist with his 1956 song, “The Auctioneer.” People were in disbelief when the lyrics first left LeRoy Van Dyke’s lips as rapidly as a county fair auctioneer talks on the block. At the time, they thought he couldn’t get any better…
Years later, he shocked fans once again by still being able to ramble off the words in only a matter of seconds!
Van Dyke Wrote “The Auctioneer” while he was stationed in Korea during the Korean War. It was here that he performed it to deployed troops on the same bill as Marilyn Monroe.
As it turns out, auctioneering ran in the family. Van Dyke wrote the song about his Uncle’s experiences on the auction circuit and then dedicated it to his cousin. He used actual auction calls throughout the song and nails them perfectly as he rattles them off.
The song itself is about a young boy growing up in Arkansas. He has a tendency to skip school and – instead of playing with his friends – finds himself at a local auction barn. He is fascinated by the famous “auctioneer chant” and knows right away that he wants to be an auctioneer.
“Well he’d stand and listen carefully then pretty soon he began to see /How the auctioneer could talk so rapidly/ He said, “Oh my it’s do or die I’ve got to learn that auction cry/ Gotta make my mark and be an auctioneer”
His family obviously isn’t happy that their son wants to pursue the auctioneer career path – but, they end up giving in and send him off to auctioneer school. When he comes home, he gains popularity and becomes the best in the land.
“His fame reached out from shore to shore he had all he could do and more/ He had to buy a plane to get around/ Now he’s the tops in all the land so let’s all give that man a hand/ He’s the best of all the auctioneers”
Now, years after he first performed it – Van Dyke gave an exhilarating performance of the fast-paced song. Surrounded by an audience sitting in miss-matched armchairs and rockers – you can hear his famous auction chant come across the video right from the start.
As the video goes on, you can even see some country music historical pieces that you might see in a real auction. There are signs, guitars, and cowboy boots scattered throughout the room – not to mention a few glitzy western-wear outfits complete with rhinestones, fringe, and glitter!
The audience was on the edge of their seats every time Van Dyke entered the “bidding” part of his song. But the words effortlessly roll off his tongue.
“25 dollar 30 now 30 dollar 30 dollar/ 30 dollar 30 dollar give me a hollar 30 dollar/ who will bid it at a 35 dollar bid?/ 35 dollar 35 35 make it 35 and a 35 make it 35 and a 35 / Who will bid it at a 35 dollar bid?”
In the midst of his fast-paced chanting, Van Dyke still makes a couple jokes to the audience. Right when he is about to get to the fastest part of the song – where he does the bidding – he grins and says, “All together now!” The audience laughs at the invitation, knowing fully well that there is no keeping up with this auctioneering machine!
You can check out the full video below and see how fast you can sing along! Don’t forget to let us know how you did in the comments.
For more classic country videos like this one, head on over to Country Road TV. The folks there really know what country music is all about!