Have you heard the tale of “Smackwater Jack”?

I play my old pop and folk CDs — carefully transferred from LPs — when I write. I’ve been weeding them out a little; some of those albums no longer seem top notch. I’ve been listening to some fairly boring songs.

But not so when I play, as I am right now, Carole King’s “Tapestry.”

An odd thing about me: I’m a writer so you’d think the words of songs would live in the part of my brain where words settle. But no. For the most part, it’s the music that stays with me, not the words.

So when King began singing “Smackwater Jack,” a song she wrote with her then-husband, Gerry Goffin, I was humming along to the tune until a few lines got my attention.

“Smackwater Jack,” a rockin’ song, not a ballad, maybe was fun in 1971.

Smackwater Jack

Smackwater Jack, he bought a shotgun/Cause he was in the mood for a little confrontation/He just let is all hang loose/he didn’t think about the noose/He couldn’t take no more abuse, so he shot down the congregation.

You can’t talk to a man with a shotgun in his hand.

Big Jim the Chief stood for law and order/He called for the guard to come and surround the border/Now from his bulldog mouth/As he led the posse south/Came the cry, “We got to ride to clean up the street/For our wives and our daughters!”

You can’t talk to a man when he don’t want to understand.

The account of the capture wasn’t in the papers/But you know, they hanged ole Smack right then (instead of later)/You know, the people were quite pleased/Cause the outlaw had been seized/And on the whole, it was a very good year for the undertaker.

You can’t talk to a man with a shotgun in his hand.

Replace “shotgun” with “AR-15,” and, there, you’ve fixed the message.


This entry was posted in Guns in the U.S. of A., The Facts of Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.