Saturday, October 29, 2011

Charlie Daniels Band - The Legend Of Wooley Swamp

(Image source)
The ghosts come out on Halloween.  Yeah, there's a country song for that.

Perhaps it's better to say "Southern Rock".  While this song didn't do very well on the country charts, it became a big crossover hit in 1980, taking the song well into the Top 40, and the album platinum.

The story is the sort you heard around the campfire when you were young: an old rich miser living in the woods, some young, foolish bad guys ("white trash" in the song) who kill him for his money, and the poetic justice that snares them.

Oh, and the ghosts of all involved who come out at night ...

The Legend of Wooley Swamp (Songwriters: Charlie Daniels, Tom Crain, "Taz" DiGregorio, Fred Edwards, James W. Marshall, Charles Hayward)
Well, if you ever go back into Wooley Swamp,
Well, you better not go at night.
There's things out there in the middle of them woods
That make a strong man die from fright.
Things that crawl and things that fly
And things that creep around on the ground.
And they say the ghost of Lucius Clay gets up and he walks around.

But I couldn't believe it.
I just had to find out for myself.
And I couldn't conceive it
'Cause I never would have listened to nobody else.
And I couldn't believe it.
I just had to find out for myself
There's somethings in this world you just
can't explain.

The old man lived in the Wooley Swamp way back in Booger Woods.
He never did do a lot of harm in the world,
But he never did do no good
People didn't think too much of him
They all thought he acted funny
The old man didn't care about people anyway
All he cared about was his money.
He'd stuff it all down in mason jars
And he'd bury it all around
And on certain nights
If the moon was right
He'd dig it up out of the ground.
He'd pour it all out on the floor of his shack
And run his fingers through it.
Yeah, Lucius Clay was a greedy old man
And that's all that there was to it.

Cable boys was white trash
They lived over on Carver's Creek.
They were mean as a snake
And sneaky as a cat
And belligerent when they'd speak.
One night the oldest brother said,
"Y'all meet me at the Wooley Swamp later
We'll take old Lucius's money
and we'll feed him to the alligators."

They found the old man out in the back
With a shovel in his hand,
Thirteen rusty mason jars
was just dug up out of the sand.
And they all went crazy
And they beat the old man,
And they picked him up off of the ground.
Threw him in the swamp
And stood there and laughed
As the black water sucked him down.

Then they turned around
And went back to the shack
And picked up the money and ran.
They hadn't gone nowhere
When they realized
They were running in quicksand.
And they struggled and they screamed
But they couldn't get away
And just before they went under
They could hear that old man laughing
In a voice as loud as thunder.

And that's been fifty years ago
And you can go by there yet.
There's a spot in the yard
In the back of that shack
Where the ground is always wet.
And on summer nights
If the moon is right
Down by the that dark footpath,
You can hear three young men screaming.
You can hear one old man laugh.
Have a fun Halloween.  Just stay out of the woods ...


wolfwalker said...

Good song. Lousy recording, though. The version on A Decade of Hits is much better.

Old NFO said...

Good song is right! CDB always has put good stuff out!

Southern Belle said...

Yes that's a great song! Charlie Daniels is terrific.

Ruth said...

heh, I was just listening to that yesterday!

Tam said...

So there I was...

2003. Deer camp, just outside of Waynesboro, Georgia.

I'd woken up at 0MG30 on a cold November morning and gotten dressed in a pitch-dark cabin so as not to bork my night vision, and headed out to the stand.

I'm creeping very slowly... step... long pause... step... down the sandy trail, by the available light of the moon still up, with Spanish moss dangling overhead and the occasional burbling ripple or splash from the black waters of the beaver pond off in the swampy woods to my right...

...and suddenly this song pops into my head and will not go away.

Bob said...

There's a few other similar songs out there. Jerry Reed sang Amos Moses and Gator, Jim Stafford sang Swamp Witch and Last Chant,, that's about it, actually.

wolfwalker said...

CD himself did another song in a similar setting called "Alligator."

I suspect you could find a few somewhat-similar-in-theme songs among Irish and Scottish folk ballads. Also in Appalachia.

Sabra said...

That is right up there on the list of songs that used to scare the bejeezus out of me when I was a child.

Atom Smasher said...

On the one hand, I've loved this song since it came out. On the other, it can't scare me because I'll always associate it with watching my best friend's oldest sister waggle her butt around while dancing to its guitar riff one fine afternoon.

Sorry, that's a good memory. :)

ZerCool said...

And to add one to the list, this 'un was on the radio this morning...