Her late Uncle Raymond & a couple cousins on my wife’s side are outstanding hillbilly musicians. When we go back home to visit, there is usually on afternoon/evening of music.
When the word gets out, musicians come from all over the place to play with Raymond. He really was that good, but never played professionally because that would mean playing where they serve alcohol, and that just wasn’t going to happen.
Once, after everyone finished singing “Rank Stranger,” my wife asked, "Just what is a “rank stranger?” Well, the crickets were louder than the bullfrogs until her brother said, “You always did ask the hard questions.”
In case you ever wondered, here’s the answer.
A “rank” stranger is a total & complete stranger. You may have heard the word used in sports. “Billy Joe is a rank amateur, but he sure is playing like a pro today!”
The next hard question for bluegrass fans is “What the heck is a ‘salty dog?’”
Turns out it is a slight corruption of the phrase “salted dog.” Back in the hill where the poor people live, they love their hunting dogs. Of all the dogs you own, one generally stood out as your favorite, so you wanted to take special care of that dog. With money being tight, you didn’t waste anything, including salt. But you would put salt on your favorite dog to rid him of fleas & ticks.
So “If I can’t be your salty dog, I won’t be your dog at all. Honey, let me be your salty dog!”