The Story Behind The Dixie Chicks’ song ‘Goodbye Earl’ [VIDEO]
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It was a controversial song when it came out in 2000 as the third single from their second studio album ‘Fly.’ But what prompted the songwriter to write it? What other country group recorded it causing a rift between them and their label? And what was the ironic ‘B’ side to the single? This song takes the phrase ‘tongue in cheek’ to a whole new level!
‘Goodbye Earl’ was written by country songwriter Dennis Linde. He had used the character of Earl in several other songs. You might remember the Sammy Kershaw song ‘Queen of My Double Wide Trailer” and the secondary character of Earl, who’s described as the “Charlie Daniels of the Torque Wrench.” The Dixie Chicks’ song was, literally, a killing-off of the character Linde had used repeatedly.
It was originally recorded by the Sons of the Desert but not included on an album, because of a dispute with the band’s label. When the Sons wanted to include it on their second album, Epic Records said no. The rift prompted the Sons’ exit from the label in 1998.
My favorite bit of trivia for this song involves the “B” Side to the single. Tammy Wynette’s ‘Stand By Your Man!’
Controversy swirled around this song because of its subject matter. Some believed it cast a much-needed spotlight on the problem of domestic violence while others felt it condoned murder. Many radio stations even refused to play it because they were afraid how their listeners would react.
The song did okay on the country charts, reaching #13 for the group, falling short of where their other singles were landing at that time. But the publicity surrounding it certainly put the Dixie Chicks on the map!
One final note: Did you know that country comedian Cledus T Judd did a parody of the song? It’s called ‘Goodbye Squirrel!”