Love this song… But it’s often misunderstood by “us” novices, even by me. My original thoughts were that it had something to do with quitting drugs, and the mistakes made by doing them. It’s easy to make that connection, and since it was the time when they really were getting clean it made sense. Who knows? Maybe that was Tyler’s and Joe’s, and Jim’s (Valence) connection.
But the reality is, is that it was way more than that. Gary Shatto, Phoenixa Sol, and a few others probably know this… But the real story is, that Steven took an old Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter song, and a Taj Mahal song and created this one. Taj Mahal was an old school favorite Blues man of Steven’s in his early years. So he took some of the words from these songs and built his own lyrics around them.
Steven’s understanding was that these “chants; “Ho Boy Don’t Cha Lina Track” had been around since slavery days. About staying off the tracks if you run. But other lines from Leadbelly’s song; “If could, I surely would stand on the rock that Moses stood” makes one wonder… Hence the Lawsuit from Huddie’s estate vs. Aerosmith… But yet the meaning and the structure of the song is very different;
From Wikipedia; “The singer is married to a woman who constantly gets on him; “talking about the money I ain’t made”. Then one night in a drunken stupor; “drank so much hooch it made my eyes be gettin’ blurry. He shoots her, killing her; “Whatcha do with a gun that’s loaded? Shot her dead and her heart exploded!” In trial, he claims it was an accident, but has no remorse; “I swear I didn’t know that .45 was loaded, in fact my memory ain’t too clear”… “That’s not to say she didn’t get what she deserv-ed, least that’s the way it looks from here”. He testifies his wife was a whore, who wouldn’t give him marital relations; “and every night she’d take her things into the city, and in the morning made me beg”. He is sentenced to be hanged “poor boy sweatin’ in the hot summer night, hangman waitin’ for the early morning light”.
This song was a lot of fun in the ‘90s where Joe and Steven would bring back their earliest years, their time on the stage before anyone knew who they were, when… above…. Or below everyone else at the time, (depending on your perspective) sat down together to play Major Barbara. That re-enacted those years with this one, sitting out center stage, sometimes in the round, in front of the crowd and do an acoustical version…. Such a fun good song!
Listen to this one again, for the 1st time. This is jamming, this is scatting, this is those two things, those two guys, a guitar and a harmonica, with something borrowed in between to create a song that brings you back to the days of Major Barbara, and the sound of Movin’ Out…
This is Hangman’s Jury