Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 08-27-2008, 08:18 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 119
Dissecting "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" Lyrics

OK I looked them up with various Google searches, and I know you can't print lyrics here in full so I'll ask about parts of it. I was kind of wondering what parts of it mean.

Here's the first question --->

"He was on his way home from Candletop". I assume this is some sort of place? Is this correct? If so then we don't know what it is? Or does it have a meaning?

The next part --->

"Been two weeks gone and he thought he'd stop
At ???? and have him a drink."

Now what should the ???? be? I've seen it listed as Web's or Williams and various other thing?

As a side question, this would mean Webs or whatever that word is, is some sort of bar right?

The next part -->

"Andy Wolloe said "Hello"
And he said "Hi, what's doin', Wo?"

Now I am assuming the "Wo" line is short for the last name Wolloe? Is this correct? If not what is the wo for? Or is it just to make the song singable?

The next part--->

"Since you been gone she's been seein' that Amos boy, Seth "

Is this correct? What the heck is an AMOS BOY? Maybe it should be nieghbors boy?

I still can't figure out the narrative of the song.

Can someone explain that? I mean who is doing what to who.
#2
Old 08-27-2008, 08:34 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: SEC
Posts: 13,867
Humbly submitted for your perusal
#3
Old 08-27-2008, 08:34 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,215
Quote:
Originally Posted by KRSOradio
The next part--->

"Since you been gone she's been seein' that Amos boy, Seth "

Is this correct? What the heck is an AMOS BOY? Maybe it should be nieghbors boy?
In the south, Amos is a common surname. It's also not common to refer to younger people by their family name, and only add the first name if it matters (like in this case, you wouldn't want someone killing the wrong person, so you'd specify 'Seth').

I don't know why people do this... I think it just sounds a little less direct than 'Seth Amos'... it adds just a hint of ambiguity. As if you had to ponder it a little, that the person's name has never been on the top of your mind, and that you haven't been carrying a piece of juicy gossip around for days just waiting to break the story. And more importantly, that you could claim a mixup if it turned out not to be true... "well, I knowed it was one of them Amos boys, anyway". That's my theory, anyway.
#4
Old 08-27-2008, 08:36 PM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Leavenworth, KS
Posts: 3,229
Quote:
Originally Posted by KRSOradio
OK I looked them up with various Google searches, and I know you can't print lyrics here in full so I'll ask about parts of it. I was kind of wondering what parts of it mean.

Here's the first question --->

"He was on his way home from Candletop". I assume this is some sort of place? Is this correct? If so then we don't know what it is? Or does it have a meaning?

The next part --->

"Been two weeks gone and he thought he'd stop
At ???? and have him a drink."

Now what should the ???? be? I've seen it listed as Web's or Williams and various other thing?

As a side question, this would mean Webs or whatever that word is, is some sort of bar right?

The next part -->

"Andy Wolloe said "Hello"
And he said "Hi, what's doin', Wo?"

Now I am assuming the "Wo" line is short for the last name Wolloe? Is this correct? If not what is the wo for? Or is it just to make the song singable?

The next part--->

"Since you been gone she's been seein' that Amos boy, Seth "

Is this correct? What the heck is an AMOS BOY? Maybe it should be nieghbors boy?

I still can't figure out the narrative of the song.

Can someone explain that? I mean who is doing what to who.

You are correct in your assessment. The subject of the song was in a correctional institute at Candletop. Probably a prison, or at least a jail.

The subject then proceeded to the local bar known as Webb's. At this drinking establishment, he met a familiar face. The gentleman's name was Andy Wolloe, but to his friends, he was known as Wo. Calling people by their nick-name is not uncommon in local bars.

Andy reports the news that the subject's wife has been seeing a young man by the name of Seth Amos. Get it? The male child of the Amos family.

As to what happened following the subject's departure from the bar known as Webb's will be left to the listener to parse for himself.

SSG Schwartz
__________________
Army Strong!!!
#5
Old 08-27-2008, 09:09 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Secret World
Posts: 3,784
FWIW, another source for the lyrics:

http://lyricsdownload.com/vicki-...ia-lyrics.html

Candletop=a place, I'd assume.

I thought it was "Wink's" but I assumed it was a bar.

"Wo"=some sort of nickname, implying a friend/familiarity.

Amos could be a first name, but in this case, it's a last name. It's a small town thing: give the family name first (one of those Smith boys, because you know they're all alike), then tell which one you mean (Billy). Full name in this case: Seth Amos.

The synopsis, as I interpreted it:

A guy was coming back from somewhere---prison, ok, I didn't think of that but it makes sense. Most importantly, he was out of town. Rather than go directly home to his wife, he stopped at a bar. He finds out that his wife has been sleeping around---even with friends of his. Apparently his wife is just too hot to be left alone, and that's when he discovers that she's been whoring around. Why he's stopping at a bar (before learning that she's a ho) is pretty perplexing, but anyway:

He goes home, finds a gun, and thinks about killing. Maybe he'll kill his cheating wife or someone she's doing, e.g. the bar owner. So he goes to the barkeep's house, but when he gets there the bar owner is already dead.

He somehow knows the Georgia patrol is on their rounds so he fires a shot to get their attention and they conclude that the shot that they heard killed the barkeep (Andy). And (due process, yadda) that's how he gets hung.

Except little sister don't miss when she aims her gun. I.e. the sister killed Andy the barkeep (on behalf of her brother). Unfortunately she couldn't tell the authorities before her brother yodeled his last.

That little sister (perhaps later) planted the adulterous wife in the ground as well, though she was careful to conceal this.

How exactly a power outage is required for this to happen, I don't know. The corrupt judge...maybe the little sister bribed with some nookie.

That's all I've got.
#6
Old 08-28-2008, 05:08 AM
Member
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: The Keystone State
Posts: 3,371
A cover version with a music video.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=wqZVZGo2mXc
#7
Old 08-28-2008, 05:32 AM
Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 818
The power outage is because when the brother is electrocuted, the power drawn to the chair causes the other lights in town to dim/go out.

This isn't accurate, but it's a common enough trope. I suspect it originated in old prison movies, where dimming the lights in the rest of the prison was an easy shorthand for "condemned man just died."
#8
Old 08-28-2008, 05:48 AM
BANNED
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Manchestuh, UK.
Posts: 7,879
One little point; doesn't she sing, "That's the night they hung an innocent man."? I doubt they had electric gallows back in them days!?
#9
Old 08-28-2008, 06:09 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Secret World
Posts: 3,784
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan astikov
One little point; doesn't she sing, "That's the night they hung an innocent man."? I doubt they had electric gallows back in them days!?
I think you're right, Ivan: the electric gallows came later, just before the wood-burning radio IIRC.

But seriously: I always thought the point of the lights going out was that it provided something along the lines old crime/detective film scenario. The lights went out, shots were fired, the lights came back on, someone's dead...so whodunit?

I.e., my interpretation: although the lines about the lights being out and a man being hung are together in the song, they're not supposed to be the same night. If you wanted to get the Georgia patrol's attention, would you fire a shot? Maybe...if the lights were out. And if you were stupid, because they might think you were shooting at them and return fire.

I'm not disputing Punkyova's notion, however. Lame mistakes have been made in songs since forever ago. I suspect that like many songs, this one doesn't quite make sense no matter how you interpret it.
#10
Old 08-28-2008, 06:26 AM
BANNED
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Manchestuh, UK.
Posts: 7,879
Quote:
Originally Posted by lobotomyboy63
I think you're right, Ivan: the electric gallows came later, just before the wood-burning radio IIRC.
Yep, but they finally got somewhere with the gas-powered oven, so 'Yippee' for progress.
#11
Old 08-28-2008, 06:43 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Secret World
Posts: 3,784
I guess the old hack writers' "It was a dark and stormy night" is 2/3 present here. The lights being out for a time would allow the sister to kill both the whoring wife and the rat bastard bartender and escape, but the brother...well, you know.

Candletop must not be a prison b/c it says he'd been gone two weeks. Could be a jail; could be he was just outta town on bidness. But that gave his wife time to nail half the town.
#12
Old 08-28-2008, 07:10 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: South-West Midlands
Posts: 1,352
I always assumed the lights going out to be less than literal - as in, the metaphorical hope and trust that light can be (lighting up your life, for eg.). This is going to be lost in Georgia as a result of a corrupt system and hasty execution of an innocent man.
#13
Old 08-28-2008, 07:38 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Milky Way Galaxy
Posts: 36,832
Plus the singer allowed her brother to die for a murder she committed.

I think there may be some issues in that family of origin.

Regards,
Shodan
#14
Old 08-28-2008, 07:51 AM
Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 42,531
Dave Barry says he was once on a program with Vicki Lawrence, and took the opportunity to ask her backstage what the song was about. She said she had no idea.


Right.
#15
Old 08-28-2008, 08:28 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: ATX
Posts: 6,029
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
Dave Barry says he was once on a program with Vicki Lawrence, and took the opportunity to ask her backstage what the song was about. She said she had no idea.


Right.
In this video of Reba and Vicki, right before they sing the song together, Vicki says, "I hope I remember all the words, they never did make any sense".

I don't think this song is as deep as the OP thinks it is.
#16
Old 08-28-2008, 08:39 AM
BANNED
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Manchestuh, UK.
Posts: 7,879
Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleRojelio
In this video of Reba and Vicki, right before they sing the song together, Vicki says, "I hope I remember all the words, they never did make any sense".

I don't think this song is as deep as the OP thinks it is.
I will add upon seeing that vid, that Reba has a wild glint in her eyes entirely appropriate for this song.
#17
Old 08-28-2008, 08:42 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 20,383
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
Dave Barry says he was once on a program with Vicki Lawrence, and took the opportunity to ask her backstage what the song was about. She said she had no idea.


Right.
I think that just illustrates the folly of trying to make sense out of words that weren't composed or connected as carefully as we might assume. It's a little like analysing Winnie The Pooh or Alice in Wonderland for deep psychological meaning -- the analysis takes on a meaning of its own.
Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleRojelio
I don't think this song is as deep as the OP thinks it is.
Exactly.

Last edited by Musicat; 08-28-2008 at 08:44 AM. Reason: Exactly.
#18
Old 08-28-2008, 08:45 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: ATX
Posts: 6,029
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan astikov
I will add upon seeing that vid, that Reba has a wild glint in her eyes entirely appropriate for this song.
It's because she was taking pleasure in totally pwning Vicki at singing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat
I think that just illustrates the folly of trying to make sense out of words that weren't composed or connected as carefully as we might assume. It's a little like analysing Winnie The Pooh or Alice in Wonderland for deep psychological meaning -- the analysis takes on a meaning of its own.
Vicki even addresses this. The song was written by her then husband and, after having been heard by Sonny ( of Cher fame) said that the lyrics would need to be rewritten so as to not offend all of the south. To which the Vicki's husband repsonded that he didn't care enough about the song to rewrite it. It went on to become Vicki's greatest hit as written.

Last edited by UncleRojelio; 08-28-2008 at 08:50 AM.
#19
Old 08-28-2008, 08:51 AM
BANNED
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Manchestuh, UK.
Posts: 7,879
Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleRojelio
It's because she was taking pleasure in totally pwning Vicki at singing.



Vicki even addresses this. The song was written by her then husband and, after having been heard by Sonny ( of Cher fame) said that the lyrics would need to be rewritten so as to not offend all of the south. To which the Vicki's husband repsonded that he didn't care enough about the song to rewrite it.
She does have the kind of voice that could make the telephone directory sound interesting, though. I think that's more the luck of genetics than hard practice.
#20
Old 08-28-2008, 08:58 AM
BANNED
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Posts: 6,376
I've always thought there was a hint of incest in the song, which would fit in with its "murder ballad" roots.
#21
Old 08-28-2008, 09:26 AM
Member
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Western Reserve
Posts: 8,381
//hijack//

OOOH, speaking of murder ballads, look what I got for my birthday!

//return//
#22
Old 08-28-2008, 09:28 AM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 3,567
Another mystery: Sis plugs Andy and the cheating wife, but what ever happens to that Amos boy, Seth?

PS: Did anyone else on first hearing the song think the line sounded like "Andy Warhol said hello" and wondered why the hell they'd use that name?
#23
Old 08-28-2008, 09:42 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Port Orchard, WA
Posts: 11,145
wait... Amos and Andy?


never noticed that before
#24
Old 08-28-2008, 10:08 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Illinois
Posts: 7,875
I will re-post my thoughts from the last time we discussed this song in November 2006:

I think the hanged brother's name is Seth, not the Amos boy. Andy is saying, "Hey Seth, you're wife's been cheatin' with the Amos boy."

So the cast of characters includes:

1. Seth
2. Seth's wife, who cheats on him at least once, and maybe twice
3. Andy Wolloe, Seth's friend, who sleeps with (2) while (1) is out of town
4. Seth's sister, who kills (2) and (3), allows (1) to be hanged for the crime, and narrates the song.
5. The mysterious Amos boy, mentioned once and forgotten.

Andy's style of confession is very peculiar. The husband of his lover returns from out of town, and he makes it a point to tell him that his wife has been cheating . . . but he tries to pin it on the Amos boy. Why? To deflect attention from himself? As a trial balloon to see how Seth reacts? Is it even true about the Amos boy? One suspects not.

At any rate, when Seth gets really pissed, then Andy tells him that his wife has "also" been cheating with himself. This is odd. Is he suddenly concerned for the hapless Amos boy? Does he think Seth will back off just because Andy is his friend? "Oh well, no point in offing the Amos boy, since she's also been humping my friend, and I can't off him."

Given that the rather ruthless narrator, who "don't miss when she aims her gun", never mentions the Amos boy again, I'd say that part of Andy's story is a fabrication.
#25
Old 08-28-2008, 11:31 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Central NC
Posts: 4,656
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigmagirl
//hijack//

OOOH, speaking of murder ballads, look what I got for my birthday!

//return//
I glanced at the track listing for that and this jumped out at me:

2. Wreck Of the Old 97 Skillet Lickers

I spent a few seconds wondering how 97 Skillet Lickers would get into a wreck before I realized that none of the track listings had any dividing mark between the title and the artist.
#26
Old 08-28-2008, 12:09 PM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: By the Caloosahatchee
Posts: 11,523
"97 skillet lickers" sounds like some spam i've been getting lately.
#27
Old 08-28-2008, 12:25 PM
Member
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Western Reserve
Posts: 8,381
Heh. Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers are ur-country, on the Bristol Sessions, whence Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family.
#28
Old 08-28-2008, 04:21 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: The Nekkid Pueblo
Posts: 20,481
Before looking too deeply into this song's lyrics, don't forget it was written by Vicki Lawrence's husband at the time, Bobby Russell, who was also responsible for Little Green Apples and Saturday Morning Confusion.
#29
Old 08-28-2008, 05:45 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Falls Church, Va.
Posts: 13,693
Wait a minute -- "Amos" and "Andy"?
#30
Old 04-04-2013, 11:01 PM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Leavenworth, KS
Posts: 3,229
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Punkyova View Post
The power outage is because when the brother is electrocuted, the power drawn to the chair causes the other lights in town to dim/go out.

This isn't accurate, but it's a common enough trope. I suspect it originated in old prison movies, where dimming the lights in the rest of the prison was an easy shorthand for "condemned man just died."
I know enough not to poke Zombies, but I just figured this out. If there was power in that part of GA at the time of the shooting, little sister would have been seen going to Andy's house. It would have also left enough house lights on for the brother to be seen showing up late to the murder.

If all the lights in town are off, you can't be sure who was in the house at the time of the killing.

SFC Schwartz
#31
Old 01-27-2016, 04:11 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 1
my thoughts

Well this hasn't been replied to in years but the song popped in my head and I thought I would give my two cents. First, calling him "that Amos boy" is like saying them Duke boys Bo and Luke from Hazzard. It just implies he's from that family. The bar I am almost certain is Webbs. Andys last name may be Wollos. It kinda sounds like Wuornos, like serial killer Eileen Wuornos. The chorus, I believe is symbolic, not literal. The lights going out is life leaving his body when hanged, similar to the saying "knock someones lights out".
#32
Old 01-27-2016, 04:26 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: austin tx usa
Posts: 35,294
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
Dave Barry says he was once on a program with Vicki Lawrence, and took the opportunity to ask her backstage what the song was about. She said she had no idea.


Right.
Well, her freaking husband WROTE the song, so why didn't she just ask him?

Besides which, even in Georgia, nobody was getting hanged for murder in 1973, much less hanged the very night of his "make believe" trial.
#33
Old 01-28-2016, 10:01 AM
Guest
Join Date: May 2005
Location: St Petersburg, Floriduhhh
Posts: 6,395
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnymalibu View Post
Well this hasn't been replied to in years but the song popped in my head and I thought I would give my two cents. First, calling him "that Amos boy" is like saying them Duke boys Bo and Luke from Hazzard. It just implies he's from that family. The bar I am almost certain is Webbs. Andys last name may be Wollos. It kinda sounds like Wuornos, like serial killer Eileen Wuornos. The chorus, I believe is symbolic, not literal. The lights going out is life leaving his body when hanged, similar to the saying "knock someones lights out".
Just chiming in to say I agree with this, especially the last part. Also, I don't know why Vicki Lawrence is so confused about the song's meaning. Seems pretty cut and dried to me, Andy's ill conceived confession notwithstanding.

I wish wacky songs like this were still popular. I'm sure they still are on country music stations but back when this was popular you'd hear it on any one of the three available AM stations and it was apt to be preceded by Seasons in the Sun or followed by Stairway to Heaven.
#34
Old 01-28-2016, 12:05 PM
Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Flatlander in NH
Posts: 25,528
Am I the only nerd compelled to sing "the night they hanged an innocent man"?
#35
Old 01-28-2016, 03:26 PM
mbh mbh is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 4,004
The narrator blames the judge for railroading her brother, and the defense attorney for allowing it, but in my opinion, the brother probably confessed to the crime, in order to protect his sister.
#36
Old 01-28-2016, 03:30 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Regina, SK, Canada
Posts: 1,788
They hung her brother before she could say what she did because, I don't know, her nails were drying or something. There's enough blame to go around.
#37
Old 01-28-2016, 05:15 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 77,239
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbh View Post
The narrator blames the judge for railroading her brother, and the defense attorney for allowing it, but in my opinion, the brother probably confessed to the crime, in order to protect his sister.
He probably felt he was guilty at least by intent. He had after all gone home, got his gun, and gone to Andy's house. It seems pretty clear he was planning on killing Andy and the only thing that stopped him was his sister had already killed him.
#38
Old 01-28-2016, 05:38 PM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 3,887
Quote:
Originally Posted by 74westy View Post
They hung her brother before she could say what she did because, I don't know, her nails were drying or something. There's enough blame to go around.
She was out of town burying his wife's body.

That lyric as sung by Vicki makes the hairs on my arms raise every time.
#39
Old 01-28-2016, 06:08 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 5,633
Quote:
Originally Posted by gigi View Post
Am I the only nerd compelled to sing "the night they hanged an innocent man"?
They said he was hung!
#40
Old 01-28-2016, 06:31 PM
Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Flatlander in NH
Posts: 25,528
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just Asking Questions View Post
They said he was hung!
Not well enough to keep his wife at home.
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:24 PM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: tossed salad sex ugliest ford mustang restaurant dishwashing gloves basilisk images headless thompson gunner akamai.net what is alum douche housesitting prices scribd legit old hundred hymn microwave arcing lisa gerrard sanvean can you use jb weld on plastic do bearded dragons get lonely when to use parking lights geek squad computer setup free makeup makeovers at department stores asbestos floor tiles risk how to stick paper to fabric use passport as id do family dollar sell condoms castle park apartments st louis haunted what is the highest score possible in 10 pin bowling? no spotting after mirena insertion