Skip to contentSkip to Main Site NavigationSkip to Site Left NavigationSkip to Site Utility NavigationSkip to Site SearchSkip to FooterDownload Adobe Reader
LB Archive impact image
Print

Grandma's House

Grandma's House

WRITING CREDITS:

Lester Bangs, The Delinquents, and Jeff Whittington; original lyrics by Dale Hawkins.

 
 
My grandma lives in the mountain.
That is where I want to go.
Tall pine trees and winding roads.
all the way to Grandma's house.
 
Well, hark! I hear my old hound dog baying.
Bet he's treed a squirrel or coon.
Wish I'd brought along my rifle
on the way to Grandma's house.
 
Walk through a field of clover
on the way to Grandma's house.
Step across a stream of water
on the way to Grandma's house.
 
Well, hark! I hear my old hound dog baying.
Bet he's treed a squirrel or coon.
Wish I'd brought along my rifle
on the way to Grandma's house.
 
Remember how'd she told me stories
when I was a little boy.
How the settlers fought the Indians
to make their house and home a joy.
 
Well, hark! My old hound dog is a-baying.
Bet he's treed a squirrel or coon.
Wish I'd brought along my rifle
on the way to Grandma's house.
 
Sister Sue got lost one day.
Guess she wandered off the road.
Found her body tucked away
naked in a hollow log.
 
Well, hark! I hear my old hound dog baying.
Bet he's treed a squirrel or coon.
Wish I'd brought along my rifle
on the way to Grandma's house.
 
Old Black Bill lived all alone,
never saw him at the store.
Burned him till he was just bones
and burned him just a little more.
 
Well, hark! I hear my old hound dog a-baying.
Bet he's treed a squirrel or coon.
Wish I brought along my rifle
on the way to Grandma's house.

 
 

 
APPEARS ON
Jook Savages On the Brazos, LP, CD
Track §7
LP: Live Wire Records, LW-3 (1981); CD: Moll Tonträger [GER], Moll 6 (1995); CD: re-issue: Live Wire Records, LW-20 (2009)

SOURCES
Transcription by Lester Bangs Archive management.

Last Updated: 08/29/2016

ABOUT THE LYRICS:

This cover of American rockabilly singer Dale Hawkins's 1961 folk song, "Grandma's House," was included on the Jook Savages album by Robert Quine's prompting.  The Delinquents version, however, featured additional lyrics written by Lester Bangs, giving the song a much darker and contemporaneous subtext.

As counterpoint to the song's first half, Bangs uses the later stanzas to hold up a lens to the racism of rural America, in which this bucolic community resorts to lynching a potentially innocent black man, "Old Black Bill," for the unsolved murder of "Sister Sue"; these lyrics are ironically juxtaposed to Hawkins's original chorus in which he chides himself for not coming to town with his gun, all the while hearing the baying of his hound dog in the distance.   With this sinister subtext, Bangs's version of the song seems more referential of Harper Lee's 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, wherein town lawyer Atticus Finch champions African American murder defendant Tom Robinson, and then later, in one of the book's frequently anthologized chapters, is forced to shoot a dangerously rabid dog threatening the town. Lee uses the dog as a powerful metaphor for the rabid bigotry that stumbles into the midst of small-town America.

As a participant in the music industry, Bangs wrestled with the unmitigated racism, sexism, and homophobia of the artists—and even the editors—with whom he came into contact. One of Bangs's most controversial articles is his 1979 Village Voice exposé of racism and fascism in the punk scene, "White Noise Supremacists": "...you don’t have to try at all to be a racist. It’s a little coiled clot of venom lurking there in all of us, white and black, goy and Jew, ready to strike out when we feel embattled, belittled, brutalized. Which is why it has to be monitored, made taboo and restrained, by society and the individual" wrote Bangs. (Source: "White Noise Supremacists.”  The Village Voice 30 April 1979.)

Many have singled out "White Noise Supremacists" as Bangs's attempt at an expiation of his own sins. James Marshall, former WFMU DJ and Lester's peer as a music journalist, states Bangs took a lot of flak for the article: "Keep in mind, Lester was known for throwing around what is today called 'the N word.' The most famous photo of Lester is Kate Simon's portrait of him wearing a shirt that read: 'Last Of The White N*ggers.' I saw the way black people looked at him when he wore that shirt, and I'm amazed he wasn't murdered." (Source: Marshall, James. "Lester Bangs." The Hound Blog: BlogSpot 08 October 2009.)

  • GCCCD
  • Grossmont
  • Cuyamaca
A Member of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District