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Apparently revenge songs are harder to write than revenge movies. The last time I did one of these was “Before He Cheats”, a song ruined by committing a major offense for what he’s “probably” doing. Maybe instead of smashing his truck and leaving your name to make it easier to arrest you the mission should have been confront him, warn this girl you’re sure is drunk that your boyfriend wants to take advantage of her, and then break up with him while saving her morning regrets without the cops being necessary.

Interestly, cops also play into a minor but important error in the Dixie Chicks song “Goodbye Earl”, a song I just found out about after seeing this morning’s short from Let Me Explain Studios and Rebecca Parham. Curious, I decided to look into the song. Coming from the Chicks’ (the shortened name they go by now) fifth album, Fly, the story follows an abused wife whose best friend schemes with her to…well, you can guess if you saw the short. Shouldn’t this be a good thing? Again, one minor change would have fixed one major problem.

Look, I like the song personally. It’s bouncy, he probably did have to die na nana na na, and it’s a good revenge song. Except for one important part.

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”

‘But Tronix”, you may say, “she tried legal actions by getting a divorce and a restraining order and he still attacked her”. Yes, that’s what they wanted to take Earl in for. “Bringing him in” means they were going to arrest him for the attack. Why they took so long when Wanda had time to get out of intensive care–you know, when Earl should have been arrested, call Mary back (assuming she made the call and even with a midnight flight there was plenty of time to grab him), come up with a plan, get Earl’s guard down enough to let her make him black-eyed peas for dinner that they poisoned, drag his body to a lake and dump it and get back home before they finally showed up. He should have been locked up before she got out of the hospital. Why did it take so long? Ask songwriter Dennis Linde…which I guess you can’t since he passed away in 2006.

The thing is outside of violating a restraining order there’s no evidence Earl was protected from the law. He doesn’t know anybody high up in politics or the police department. Even the music video, which I don’t use because I’ve seen songs and videos clash before, doesn’t show him safe from being arrested…which again, he should have before her friend even landed. Had we proof that the police were corrupt, or still couldn’t or wouldn’t do their job then this would totally be justified. Have the police disappear and maybe have one of his friends or family go looking for him and declare him missing. Have his boss wonder what happened or customers wonder why his store didn’t open. I mean, nobody misses him according to the narrator so it’s not like it would have been a big concern to anyone. The cops, slower than they should, were going to do their job and he’s not buddies with the DA or the local judge. Nothing says he wouldn’t get the book thrown at him this time.

Apparently I’m not the only one to notice this flaw. Among the parodies, covers, and response songs Paul Craft performed “Hey Girls…This Is Earl…I Didn’t Die”, with a cameo by Ray Stevens and Whispering Bill. performed by men but this song was written by a man. In the song the poison didn’t kill him but gave him amnesia.

I couldn’t find a lyric video for this song, just some karaoke recordings. Granted, Earl’s redemption isn’t as satisfying as getting his compance, and at least his amnesia does offer him a moment to self reflection, but murder does take some of their sympathy…not that Earl was worthy of it either. There is a question of whether Earl from the Chicks song would take his punishment though. I guess this song has its own issues. Had he learned his lesson because of something that happened when he was amnesiac, like seeing his own actions in someone else before remembering who he was, it might have worked better. So this was flawed, too. Then there’s a song by the…Dixie Dicks. Really, guys? “My Name Is Earl” isn’t a tribute to the TV show of the same name but what happens when a woman is inspired in the wrong way.

This one didn’t even have the karaoke option. I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t just a strikeback at the Chicks themselves. They got in trouble when they “apologized” on behalf of the whole state of Texas for President George W. Bush…in a foreign country to make it worse. Texans and the country music scene in general who liked Bush as their former governor and then current President and demanded boycotts. Not ending their career, they just didn’t want it on their favorite radio stations. These guys could be part of that group. I mean, look at the name they went with. Or maybe they were concerned since just as the legal system was admitting “we were wrong all these years it’s past time to take these things seriously” man-hating or manipulative women hurt the cause by actually filing false claims, making actual victims of abuse and rape look bad again. It’s not unlikely that this could happen, but the odds versus the Earl of the original song actually being an abuser…I wouldn’t take their odds to the casino.

You might write them off as men, but again, the song was written by a man…and not for the Dixie Chicks. To make the original song even more interesting it wasn’t originally going to be performed by the all-female country group but an all-men country group, Sons Of The Desert. The Chicks grabbed it before it could be put on an album, leading to some extra controversy that led to the band parting with their label. They did perform it live though, and did make a recording at some point.

Yep, they made the same mistake. So we can blame the songwriter, not a change by the Chicks. Personally I think the girls did the better version. The funny thing is neither of these things bothered the label. According to Songfacts there was another song they found more controversial than premeditated murder of a wife abuser.

The record label wasn’t bothered by the song’s lighthearted take on murder; they were more concerned about the track “Sin Wagon,” which has the girls engaging in “mattress dancing.” Lead singer Natalie Maines told Entertainment Weekly: “They’re scared to death about that song, and they won’t talk about it in interviews. And our manager jokes, ‘You can’t say mattress dancing, but they love the song about premeditated first degree murder! This is okay?’ So it’s funny to us that mattress dancing is out and murder is in!”

A topic for another time? Anyone know this song? Apparently sex is still worse than violence yet get lumped together quite often…especially if you make TV shows for HBO. So, what do you think, internet? Did Earl have to die? Were the police doing their job and were they farting around first? Did college-girl Rebecca deserve to be embarrassed out of family karaoke? Would you like to know what I consider a GOOD revenge song? I know a good one and I’ll probably use it eventually. This was better than the last one, but it still has a mistake that takes some of the girls’ victory away. Drop that and this would be just fine.


About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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