Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Night the Logic Went Out of Lyrics

Time to dip back into that ever-giving well of nausea we call 70s pop.

No, not the endless strange soda pops that were popular back then. I’m talking about the endless pop hits we had back then. This time we’re going to have to do a critical analysis of one of them just for fun.

I can think of no better song to start with then “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” by Vicky Lawrence. While she sort of looked like Carol Burnett and milked that show for 9 years, she’s best known for her number one song. Well, I should say her husband’s song at the time. He wrote it and then she got famous with it and then divorced him. Classic!

Let’s start our analysis:

He was on his way home from Candletop
Been two weeks gone and he thought he'd stop
At William's and have him a drink 'fore he went home to her
Andy Wolloe said "Hello"
And he said "Hi, what's doin', Wo?"
"Seth, sit down, I got some bad news, it's gonna hurt"


I’m confused already. One stanza into the song and I have to deal with William, Andy, Wo, Seth and “a her” they don’t even bother to mention. And this the whole while I’m trying to figure out where in the hell Candletop is and why somebody would have to spend two weeks there!

He said "I'm your best friend and you know that's right"
"But your young bride ain't home tonight"
"Since you been gone she's been seein' that Amos boy, Seth "


More confusion! Does he really need confirmation on his best friend status with that qualifier? Now…is the Amos boy named Seth or is the Amos boy named Amos? How many Seth’s can there be in the South? I find it hard to believe there are any. The big assumption you need to make is that “her” must also be the “young bride”. Isn’t marriage so special that your priority is to drink with your good ol’ boy Andy instead of getting back to your young bride you haven’t been with for two weeks.

Well, he got mad 'n' he saw red and Andy said "Boy, don'tcha lose your head"
" 'cause to tell ya the truth, I been with her myself"


Ok, I get mad too. But everything around me doesn’t turn “red” because of it. The only part of the story that makes sense so far is that his best friend slept with his young bride. Now that’s just good Southern living there!

That's the night that the lights went out in Georgia
That's the night that they hung an innocent man
Well, don't trust your soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer
'cause the judge in the town's got bloodstains on his hands

I don’t get it. Why did the lights go out in Georgia? The whole state? I used to think it meant they electrocuted him and the lights went out as a result but it says very clearly that they hung him. Really? What year is this song about? Georgia stopped doing hangings in 1924.

Well, Andy got scared and left the bar
Walkin' on home 'cause he didn't live far
See, Andy didn't have many friends and he'd just lost him one


Why was he scared? Pissed off, sure! But scared? I don’t think so. Also, he drove all the way from Candletop to this bar and now he’s leaving his car and walking home? I’m building a theory that this guy Seth isn’t the sharpest crayon in the box. More on that later…

Brother thought his wife musta left town
So he went home and finally found
The only thing Papa had left him, that was a gun


Who the hell is the brother and where did he come from? What home did they go to? Seth’s home? Seth’s fathers home? Brother’s home? Are things always this confusing in the south?

And he went off to Andy's house
A'skippin' through the backwoods quiet as a mouse
Came upon some tracks too small for Andy to make

Who went to Andy’s house? Was it the brother or Seth? I’m so confused. And why were they skipping? I would be quite worried to find a grown Southern man skipping through the backwoods…

He looked through the screen at the back-porch door
And he saw Andy lyin' on the floor
In a puddle of blood and he started to shake

Where do these people live, the Ozarks? He went through the backwoods and to the back-door of his ex-friend. Why didn’t he just order the dog-poop-in-a-bag delivery instead of sneaking around with a gun? It’s just as fun and you don’t have to go to jail.

Well, the Georgia Patrol was a'makin' their rounds
So he fired a shot just to flag 'em down
And a big-bellied sheriff got his gun and said "why'dya do it?"

Ok, here’s where believability really leaves the building. Clearly ol’ Seth there isn’t too bright is he? How often do you fire a pistol to get the attention of the police? Particularly when there’s a dead body! Maybe I’ll use that tactic next time I have to be in a meeting with my boss. I’m sure the pistol firing will finally get him to shut up too…

And the judge said "Guilty" in a make-believe trial
And slapped the sheriff on the back with a smile
Said' supper's waitin' at home and I gotta get to it"

If the whole trial was make-believe then why didn’t the judge just stay at home and eat his supper in the first place? Also, don’t they have ballistics evidence in Georgia? Don’t they have time of death data? Oh, I forgot, it’s all make-believe…

That's the night that the lights went out in Georgia
That's the night that they hung an innocent man
Well, don't trust your soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer
'cause the judge in the town's got bloodstains on his hands


Maybe they hung him while he was on the electric chair and that’s what blew the power across the entire state!

Well, they hung my brother before I could say
The tracks he saw while on his way
To Andy's house and back that night were mine


Wow, the capital punishment process is pretty quick in Georgia apparently! Most states it takes years to get through all the appeals, etc. But I’m thinking maybe it’s not that tragic because removing anyone as dumb as Seth is only strengthening the gene pool!

And his cheatin' wife had never left town
And that's one body that'll never be found
See, little sister don't miss when she aims her gun


Ok, fine, family vengeance is a noble pursuit but who in the hell killed Andy then? If Seth was innocent but got hung and his sister offed “the young bride” then that kind of leaves Andy out there as an unsolved mystery. Time for another pathetic song I guess.

That's the night that the lights went out in Georgia, oh-oh-aah
That's the night that they hung an innocent man, ah-huh-unh
Well, don't trust your soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer

FADE
'cause the judge in the town's got bloodstains on his hands


I know the lawyer industry is greedy and manipulative but I didn’t know they were bartering in souls for client payments these days. Also, the judge should try turpentine or bleach on those hands. It should come right off…

62 comments:

Kurt said...

I need help with "American Pie."

Alan Smithee said...

What about "Stairway to Heaven"?

Jeff said...

That is one messed up song. Thanks for taking the time to expose it. I'll never be able to listen to it again without asking the same questions.

VE said...

kurt - That's a good one for a sequal...

alan - And that is another good sequel song. I might just have a career with all of these...

jeff - I'm always happy to expose!

The Incredible Woody said...

And even more confusing is the fact that it has been covered by other people!

VE said...

incredible woody - The only thing about that song that should be covered...is the ears!

Hale McKay said...

...And you wondered why she milked the Grandma role for so long?

VE said...

hale - It's all making sense...well, nonsense that is. And that's what I report around here!

moooooog35 said...

Shit like this is why generators are now required for new homes in Georgia.

Lights stay on.

No more bad lyrics.

VE said...

moooooog35 - Those generators running on the leftover corn fuel from the still out back?

Phfrankie Bondo said...

...and we wonder why we don't see Vicki Lawrence topping the charts any more...

Chris Wood said...

So, lawyers take souls for payment? What if you get divorced more than once?

Quirkyloon said...

Wow VE!

LMBO!

Thank goodness today's songs are so much more simple.

"You can stand under my umbrella, ella, ella, eh eh eh..."

Ella and Eh are rich and famous now!

Jaime said...

HEY! not all of us lawyers are greedy and manipulative!

VE said...

phrankie - She should hook up with her ex and get him to squeeze out a sequel explaining who killed Andy...

chris - Then you're too stoopid and broke to have a soul anyway!

quirkyloon - Yeah, that umbrella song is DEEP with introspective meaning! Just like that singer and her whole generation!

jaime - Doh! Well, only Southern lawyers that live near Candletop...

Jaime said...

okay... that's better!

Roy Scribner said...

Maybe it makes more sense if you play it backwards?

Nessa said...

See this is why I rarely listen to the words.

Gladys said...

Could we just do an analysis of Jerry Jeff's "Up Against the Wall?" instead. This one is much too confusing and I'm from the south.

Elizabeth said...

My husband said when this song came on the radio his mom would turn it off because she thought it was inappropriate for kids to hear. She might as well let it play, they wouldn't have understood it anyway.

VE said...

jaime - Where's the fun if you can't pick on lawyers?

roy - If you play it backwards you have some guy named Billy Jo Macallister jumping off some bridge...

nessa - That's a good decision apparently...

gladys - I'm not familiar with that song; I'll have to research and get back to you...

VE said...

elizabeth - Apparently its not appropriate for anybody...

Dalton J. Fox said...

I always thought I was the only person that noticed the resemblance between Vicky Lawrence and Carol Burnett! Glad to know somebody else sees it because I remember mentioning it to people before and they'd think I was nuts.

Yeah, there's an analysis of an entire song up there and this is what I chose to comment on.

ReformingGeek said...

I think Hubby and I had the same conversation about what the song was trying to tell us.

The best part was her singing voice. The rest leaves something to be desired. Got logic?

Kathryn Magendie said...

LAUGHING!...okay, hope you don't mind I'm stoppin' (skippin la la la) by -- from Llama's place...I'm southern, but hell if this doesn't make me laugh... cause it's true...laughing....okay, I'm leaving now -- got my moonshine on my back - obladee obladah, my moonshiine on my back...

Dee said...

as weird as I now think that song is, I'm trippin because "Vicky Lawrence" wrote the song???

moooooog35 said...

One question:

Even if the lights DID go out in Georgia, wouldn't they still be able to see with all the cross burnings going on?

Just curious.

Megan said...

I have to go get some more coffee. Because don't get it even more than I didn't not get it before this...

Gladys said...

V.E. That would be...Jerry Jeff Walker's "Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother" or if you'd rather we could analyze "Let's Just Get Drunk and Screw"

Beth said...

I'm still confused as to who killed whom and why, but you got me laughing!

VE said...

dalton - Hey...at least you read some of the first part of the post and not just the last paragraph and then commented on that! Plus, I don't know that it supports your credibility by adding me to the list of those that thought Carol Burnett and Vicky Lawrence looked similar. Probably hurts it actually!

reforminggeek - See...I'm just posting what everyone has either discussed or subliminally been thinking all along!

kathryn - Ha! I wondered if somebody on Colby's blog might read my comment and jump over ready to burn me at the stake for being critical of Southerners. Then, it turns out I'm covering a song so ridiculous it doesn't matter where you are from. Thanks for stopping in and commenting!

dee - Actually her ex-husband did. Then she divorced him! I wonder if he got any of the money she made from his song?

moooooog35 - Cross burning...is that like cross pollinating? Isn't the initial burn enough?

megan - Isn't that the great thing about my blog, it only leaves you more confused!

gladys - Now that last song...I pretty much get the meaning behind that one...they're alcoholic carpenters, right?

VE said...

beth - I don't even think the songwriter knows...

lime said...

how soon may you attack the great "macarthur park?"

oh and that sidebar poll....you don't offer the option of being frisked by armed and uniformed military guys in south america. if you did i would have checked that box too.

VE said...

lime - Good callouts! Seems I've got quite a list of ridiculous songs going for future thrashing. I did forget South America, didn't I. Strange oversite since I've been to nearly every country there.

Bee said...

Look, I know he appears to be innocent but he was gonna kill him anyways
so he deserved what he dun got.

That's just my humble opinion.

VE said...

bee - Of couse I see you left out who "he" is. Seth? the southern lawyer? The brother? Amos? Andy? The stained judge? William? Mr. T? Mr. Bill? You're not helping here...

Jaime said...

i know it's fun. i do it myself. i just don't like being lumped in with the greedy, blood-sucking vampire part of the profession.

nursemyra said...

no wonder she divorced him. the wonder is they even married in the first place. vicki lawrence I mean - not Seth, Amos etc.

Deb said...

Some guy went "A skippin' through the backwoods"? I didn't know it was THAT kind of song. A skippin' men? Whoa. Real men don't skip.

Janna said...

Be sure to put Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" on the list too.

And, y'know, come to think of it, I never really felt I understood the whole message behind "London Bridge Is Falling Down" either.

Serena said...

I don't know, I'm thinking they should just turn off the lights and go to sleep.

Thinkinfyou said...

I always have hated that song!

VE said...

jaime - But vampires are quite the party people!

nursemyra - I was thinking the same thing. But she sang the damn song so it doesn't make sense

deb - I agree. The last time I skipped was high school!

janna - More great choices. Sounds like I might have to make this a semi-regular feature too

serena - Apparently the lights are going off all the time anyway. Glad I don't have a computer there!

thinkinfyou - And now you know why!

Scary Monster said...

Good thing that the Scary one don't listen to music. Idiotic lyrics might just make me want to...


STOMP!!

Me be liking the mose post. Wonder iffin they make a model fer miniature monsters

VE said...

Scary - Yeah, Scary! Wow, I was just asking Serena or somebody about you the other day and now here you are! We need a good STOMP for this song! And yes, there should be a special mouse just for you...

FundamentalJelly said...

The running commentary was hilarious. And considering the number of songs possible for such a format, well you haven't even begun to plumb the depths. Nice job.

VE said...

fundamentaljelly - Thanks. Yes, this format will have to be explored again. I keep holding these for a rainy day sort of when I don't have any goofy other ideas but that never seems to come.

Uncivil said...

I've got bloodstains on my hands just tryin' to catch up with the comments!

yellojkt said...

That is one of the great cheesy songs of all time.

VE said...

uncivil - That's what you get for taking a break. VE posts never sleep!

yellojkt - Yeah...like Velveeta cheese too

Mrsupole said...

I remember hearing something about Vicky Lawrence was not supposed to be the one who sang this song. They got her to do it at the last minute and she had not really rehearsed it either. After she had sang the song they realized that it was made for her. I cannot remember who was really supposed to sing it. Who cares who killed who or why. Who cares if the lights went out in Georgia, but I thought they all used Kerosene lamps back in those days anyways. And we still got those crooked judges in every town. The trick is not having them be your judge. And you know a backwoods lawyer got his degree through the mail. Poor Seth didn't have a fighting chance. Did you know that some states still have hanging on their books as one of their death penalty choices.

God bless.

VE said...

mrsupole - Vicky Lawrence is your next door neighbor, isn't she? And as to hanging, there are actually only two states that still offer it as an option: Washington and New Hampshire...

Perpetual Chocoholic said...

I'd rather talk pop shop.

VE said...

perpetual chocoholic - Now Poppe Shoppe was a weird company. You could only buy their damn cheap soda in cases and you had to return the whole case of bottles to get another case. Who buys a case just to see if they even like it?

unfinishedrambler said...

I've never thought about a song that in-depth, but now like Jeff and all these others, I'll have to rethink next time I hear this song.

Starrlight said...

To me the most mind blowing 70's song will always be Rod Stewart asking us if we think he is sexy. I'd rather sew parts of my anatomy shut, thank you very much.

VE said...

unfinishedrambler - Leave it to me to think about what you don't and then present it here...

starrlight - Yeah...I was certainly offended! Like I thought he was sexy...right...

thevinylvillage said...

LOL! I was just listening to this song earlier today. Not Vicki's version--Reba's. Reba must have thought it didnt make any damned sense either, because her video for the song clears it all up. Andy was the sisters husband, and the judge was banging the young bride too.

Carla said...

Bring in CSI, they'll have the whole thing figured out in a snap.

VE said...

thevinylvillage - I saw there was another version (didn't know that before I looked up the lyrics). Of course...do we really know that Reba's version of the story is the RIGHT version?

carla - For this one we might need Cold Case Files...

Maureen said...

Gah! I HATED that song! But I liked her on Carol Burnett....

VE said...

maureen - Well now you can laugh at the ridiculousness of it next time you're forced to hear it...