I have always been cursed with the habit of listening to the lyrics of popular songs, at least when you can understand them. I think I’m going to instate a new feature where I talk about some of the more egregious ones. I will begin with the granddaddy of all stupid lyrics, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.”
I will begin with the premise that the reader knows the lyrics. After all, this was one of the great hairbrush songs of the ’70s (you know, where you used a hairbrush as a microphone and sang along with the 45?). So if you don’t know the song, you might like to go listen to it, then read the rest of this.
From beginning to end, the song is ridiculous. First stanza, the guy’s been gone for two weeks and stops for a drink before going home to his wife. What kind of a marriage is that? His wife shouldn’t have cheated on him; she should have dumped his sorry ass!
His friend Andy, for reasons best known to himself, tells him his wife isn’t at home and has been seeing “that Amos boy, Sid.” Then when the guy sees red, Andy confesses he’s been with the wife himself. Excuse me, what? Why would you tell this to a man that is already seeing red? What kind of a death wish does this Andy have, anyways? Nobody is really surprised when, a few lines later, we learn that Andy doesn’t have many friends.
One thing I was never clear on: Was the wife seeing both Andy and Sid Amos or was Andy throwing an innocent man into the line of fire? If they would have made a movie of this this song (I’m a little surprised they didn’t), Sid would have had a pathetically small part.
With only a passing thought to his missing wife (“must’ve left town”), the brother goes off with murder on his mind. I believe this is the first time the singer mentions that it’s her brother. And in the first indication of how dysfunctional the family is, we learn that the only thing his father left him was a gun. Well, maybe Papa was poor. I guess he’s dead and we needn’t concern ourselves with him, but I must say he certainly didn’t raise his kids right.
Off through the woods to kill Andy, Brother sees somebody else’s tracks (only now do I wonder how he could see them in the woods with the lights out) (really, this song is the gift that keeps on giving).
Where to begin with the next event? He’s going to kill Andy, finds out Andy is already dead. Instead of saying, “Saves me the trouble” and quietly going home and getting on match.com, he calls the police. And not by picking up a phone and dialing 911 or even saying, “Operator, get me the police!” (it was the ’70s, after all) (yeah, that match.com line was an anachronism): he fires his gun. The mind boggles. How did he even find his way home from Candletown when he clearly does not have the brains he was born with.
My sisters and I speculated that the judge was riding around in the car with the sheriff, because the “make-believe trial” happened so fast. I imagine the lack of ballistics report and investigation of clues such as the small footprints saved a lot of time.
They must have strung him up pretty fast, though, to not give his little sister time to pipe up and say she done it. Kind of a disingenuous argument after all: “I didn’t have TIME to save my brother and get hung myself!” Fast as she was about shooting everybody else, I find that a little hard to believe.
Another big question I have is: how come she hid the wife’s body were it’ll “never be found” but left Andy lying “in a puddle of blood” for all to see? And come to think about it, who shoots somebody for cheating on their brother? Did I mention dysfunctional family earlier? I guess so!
And can I just say, getting cheated on is grounds for DIVORCE! And when your best friend is sleeping with your wife you FIND A NEW BEST FRIEND! And when your brother faces these problems, what a little sister should offer is a shoulder to cry on and the name of a good divorce lawyer.
I’m sure there are many good songs about cheating wives and bad friends that do not involve murder. They probably won’t make such fun blog posts, though.