Monday, 4 December 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--Goodbye Earl (Dixie Chicks)

Hello and welcome to Murder Ballad Monday. For the past few weeks we've been looking at murder ballads with a humorous slant. This week we have a black comedy country song by the Dixie Chicks entitled Goodbye Earl. 

The video features an all-star cast and is the tale of a BFF friendship, domestic abuse, pinky-swearing, murder and zombies. Well, maybe not that last one. But, if you watch the video to the end you'll see what I mean.

The song was originally written by Dennis Linde and recorded by Sons of the Desert in the late 1990's but was made popular by the Dixie Chicks in 1999 on their fifth album Fly. 


A few radio stations refused to play it because it was said to promote violence. The Chicks' Emily Robison says, "We're not promoting murder, and we even say that in a disclaimer on our album. Besides, is there a gentler way to go than with black-eyed peas?"

A few years alter this song was released, the band would receive death threats and tremendous loss of sales and support from the country music community over comments about the Iraq war made by lead singer Natalie Maines.
She said:
"Just so you know, we're on the good side with y'all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas."

But back to the song. I love this song and the accompanying video because of the story it tells and how it makes you root for the murderers--even when you know murder is wrong. Domestic violence (just like gun violence) is no laughing matter, but this song (like The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun) doesn't take itself too seriously. The tongue is firmly planted in cheek here.

Enjoy the video, but I have included the lyrics below if you are interested.

Mary Anne and Wanda were the best of friends
All through their high school days
Both members of the 4H club, both active in the FFA

After graduation
Mary Anne went out lookin' for a bright new world
Wanda looked all around this town and all she found was Earl
Well, it wasn't two weeks after she got married that
Wanda started gettin' abused
She'd put on dark glasses or long sleeved blouses
Or make-up to cover a bruise
Well she finally got the nerve to file for divorce
And she let the law take it from there
But Earl walked right through that restraining order
And put her in intensive care

Right away Mary Anne flew in from Atlanta
On a red eye midnight flight
She held Wanda's hand as they worked out a plan
And it didn't take 'em long to decide
That Earl had to die, goodbye Earl

Those black-eyed peas, they tasted alright to me, Earl
You're feelin' weak? Why don't you lay down and sleep, Earl
Ain't it dark wrapped up in that tarp, Earl

The cops came by to bring Earl in
They searched the house high and low
Then they tipped their hats and said, thank you ladies
If you hear from him let us know

Well, the weeks went by and spring turned to summer
And summer faded into fall
And it turns out he was a missing person who nobody missed at all

So the girls bought some land and a roadside stand
Out on highway 109
They sell Tennessee ham and strawberry jam
And they don't lose any sleep at night, 'cause
Earl had to die, goodbye Earl

We need a break, let's go out to the lake, Earl
We'll pack a lunch, and stuff you in the trunk, Earl
Is that alright? Good! Let's go for a ride, Earl, hey!
Ooh hey hey hey, ummm hey hey hey, hey hey hey

Stay tuned next week for an ambiguous song--did he or didn't he? 

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