The Night the Lights Overanalyzed This Song

Posted: March 27, 2014 in Tim Braun
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The other day I was driving down the road minding my own business, as I’m wont to do. Casually flipping through the buttons on my radio trying to avoid the ‘commercial-on-every-radio-station-syndrome’, my nimble fingers suddenly settled on this stunning and beautiful piece of lyrical gold pumping out of the quad speakers of my Dodge Ram:jlo

I luh ya papi, I luh ya papi
I luh ya, luh ya, luh ya, luh ya papi
I luh ya papi
I luh ya, luh ya, luh ya, luh ya papi
I luh ya papi
I luh ya, luh ya, luh ya, luh ya papi
Yeah, that my papi
I luh ya, luh ya, luh ya, luh ya papi

I would have expected somewhat deeper lyrics from Jennifer Lopez, but what do I know. It got me thinking (again, as I’m wont to do) about the words that people put in songs. My mind as always came back to one song that has been in my head and my heart for decades. It’s a country/pop song that no matter how hard I’ve tried, I just don’t get the actions and reactions of the people in the song. By the way, this is the ONLY song I know that mentions the first and last names of TWO people in the song. Go ahead – try to think of another.

So ladies and gentlemen – please help me over-analyze this song that continually sticks in my craw. I give you:


The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia

He was on his way home from Candletop

What the heck is ‘Candletop’? Did our writer just make something up so that it would rhyme with the next line? Couldn’t he have come up with something better – like ‘Ski Roundtop’? An acual local ski resort?

Been two weeks gone and he thought he’d stop
At Webb’s and have him a drink before he went home to her
Andy Wolloe said hello
He said “Hi what’s new”
And Wo said “Sit down I got some bad news that’s gonna hurt”
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 seeing that Amos boy Seth

So now we have three characters – Andy Wolloe (cleverly nicknamed ‘Wo’ in the next line), Seth Amos, and ‘he’. For the sake of clarity we’ll name ‘he’ as Innocent McNotGuilty. So Innocent had just got married and suddenly Innocent’s wife (whom we’ll call Slutty McGuillocutty) is shacking up with Seth Amos. But….bombshell time:

Now he got mad and he saw red
Andy said boy don’t you lose your head
Cause to tell you the truth I’ve been with her myself

picture2So young Andy Wolloe (we like to call him Wo now) is best friends with Innocent – and he’s dropped the bomb that Slutty is having an affair with Seth Amos. Dumb enough (just mind your own damn business there Wo) but then Andy goes on to say that HE was having an affair with Slutty HIMSELF! Why would he do that? What the heck is even going to happen NEXT???? I’ll skip the chorus for the time being to get right back in the meat of the next verse:

Andy got scared and left the bar
Walking on home cause he didn’t live far you see
Andy didn’t have many friends and he just lost him one

Well DUH – he just told his best friend VERY casually that he’d been having an affair with his wife!

Brother thought his wife must’ve left town
So he went home and finally found the only thing
Daddy had left him and that was a gun
He went off to Andy’s house
Slipping through the backwoods quiet as a mouse
Came upon some tracks too small for Andy to make

Suddenly we have another new character. The narrator turns out to be Innocent’s sister – dubbed hereinafter as Psycho McFreud. Psycho tells us that Innocent went back to his house, got a gun and headed to Andy’s house. But he found footprints. At night. In the backwoods. Whose were they?

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

OK. You’re Innocent just standing there. What do you do? You go up to this guy’s house to shoot him, and find him already dead. In my mind you have two options:

1)      Run like hell

2)      Call the law on the phone

What does our boy Innocent do?  Let’s move on to the next verse:

The Georgia patrol was making their rounds
So he fired a shot just to flag ‘em down
A big-bellied sheriff grabbed his gun and said
“Why’d you do it?”

So you’re staring at a dead body that you did NOT kill and you take out your gun and fire a shot? I think our boy Innocent spent a few too many picture1days at Candletop doing what people do at Candletop. Of course, the fat (no reason at all for this to be mentioned except to add syllables to the sentence) sheriff takes care of business and hauls him in:

The judge said guilty on a make-believe trial
Slapped the sheriff on the back with a smile
Said supper’s waiting at home and I gotta get to it.

That’s all just too convenient for me. It’s like watching ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ with Gordon Ramsey. It’s an hour long show and for 55 minutes everything is going to hell in a hand basket and with 5 minutes left – suddenly the clouds part, the food is cooked perfectly, and the idiot owners who haven’t cleaned under the restaurant tables for 15 years suddenly find a spatula.

As an aside, I bet not one of you have ever read a blog that compared a spatula to a cold-blooded Georgian judge. Not one of you.

Now we’re heading down a REALLY bad road in the song:

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
And his cheatin’ wife had never left town
That’s one body that’ll never be found
You see little sister don’t miss when she aims her gun

So it’s all to play for now. Innocent has been hung in one of the quickest trials/death penalty sentences/executions in history. And his cute little red-haired sister, no bigger than a boll weevil, admits to not only killing Andy, but to killing Innocent’s wife, hacking her into little pieces, feeding the pieces to the dog, and then burying the rest of her! Ok, some of that was just implied, but you get the point. Not only did she do that – but she let her own brother go to the gallows for no reason! Trigger McGee is a psychopath!

Why wouldn’t Trigger have just told her brother what was going on? What is WRONG with people? Trigger didn’t talk enough, and old Andy was spouting off everything he could think to spout. Neither of them exhibited very good people skills.

It’s a fascinating case study of America. It’s got everything – affairs, murders, hanging, corrupt lawyers, Candletop, what else could you ask for? I’ll leave you with the chorus – just to leave you with a tantalizing thought:

That’s the night the lights went out in Georgia
That’s the night that they hung an innocent man
Don’t trust your soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer
Cause the judge in the town’s got bloodstains on his hands

Something tells me that Mr. Judge knew Slutty McGuillocutty WAY more than he was letting on, eh? EH?  And how did Trigger McGee know about Andy having an affair with Slutty?  Was SHE actually having an affair with Andy at the same time?  So much left unsaid.

You will never listen to this song the same way again. You’re welcome.

  1. writerinsoul says:

    This is too funny! Snort-inducing. I never tried to follow the plot before, but just happily sang the chorus. But that always confused me because I thought the lights going out was indicative of a power surge from giving a guy the electric chair. But of course that made no sense if they hung him.


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