Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Printer Friendly - Home
Page: [1] [2]


Copperhead Road - explanation of line

Related threads:
Lyr Add: The Mountain (Steve Earle) (2)
Review: Steve Earle-The Low Highway (5)
Lyr Req: Dixieland (Steve Earle) (18)
Chords/MandoTab: Galway Girl (Steve Earle) (34)
Lyr/Chords Req: The Galway Girl (15)
lyr/chords: God is God (Baez / Earle) (20)
Your Favorite Steve Earle Song (38)
What tune is Copperhead Road? (8)
Lyr/Chords Req: Pilgrim (Steve Earle) (5)
Chord Req: Until the Day I Die (Steve Earle) (1)
Chord Req: John Walker's Blues (Steve Earle) (4)
Lyr Req: Galway Girl / Cailin na Gailimhe (Earle) (13)
Steve Earle & Justin Townes Earle on NPR (2)
Steve Earle in 1000 Islands area/ Ont. (19)
Lyr Req: Christmas in Washington (Steve Earle) (7)
Lyr Req: My Old Friend the Blues (Steve Earle) (7)
Lyr Add: Johnny Come Lately (Steve Earle) (14)
Lyr Req: Sometimes She Forgets (Steve Earle) (9)
Lyr Add: Union Man (Len Wallace, Steve Earle) (8)
Steve Earle Controversy (48)
Lyr Req: Christmas in Washington (Steve Earle) (5)
Steve Earle is coming to Halifax (10)
Lyr Add: Rich Man's War (Steve Earle) (6)
Steve Earle: The Revolution Starts...Now (7)
Lyr Req: Steve Earle death row song (7)
Lyr Add: Jerusalem (Steve Earle) (4)
Steve Earle takin' heat for new song (58)
Is Steve Earl folk (38)
Steve Earle sees a friend killed (53)
Lyr Req: Devil's Right Hand (Steve Earle) (8)
Steve Earle quote on Hank Williams & Nashville (10)
Lyr Add: Nothing But a Child (Steve Earle) (1)


Roughyed 07 Dec 02 - 05:16 PM
Bobert 07 Dec 02 - 05:43 PM
open mike 07 Dec 02 - 06:06 PM
Roughyed 07 Dec 02 - 06:29 PM
Bobert 07 Dec 02 - 06:50 PM
Roughyed 07 Dec 02 - 06:59 PM
Midchuck 07 Dec 02 - 07:06 PM
ciarili 07 Dec 02 - 09:00 PM
GUEST 07 Dec 02 - 09:09 PM
GUEST,truckerdave 08 Dec 02 - 01:33 AM
ciarili 08 Dec 02 - 02:43 PM
GUEST,truckerdave 08 Dec 02 - 06:32 PM
Raptor 09 Dec 02 - 11:03 AM
Stu 09 Dec 02 - 11:23 AM
GUEST,Jenny the T 09 Dec 02 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,drm_riter@yahoo.com 03 Nov 03 - 04:27 AM
Willie-O 03 Nov 03 - 06:35 AM
richlmo 04 Nov 03 - 10:41 PM
richlmo 04 Nov 03 - 10:45 PM
ToulouseCruise 05 Nov 03 - 05:52 PM
GUEST 13 Sep 09 - 07:01 PM
Amergin 13 Sep 09 - 07:14 PM
Bobert 13 Sep 09 - 08:31 PM
romanyman 14 Sep 09 - 05:03 PM
SharonA 14 Sep 09 - 08:01 PM
robomatic 14 Sep 09 - 10:45 PM
open mike 15 Sep 09 - 02:49 PM
semi-submersible 15 Sep 09 - 06:20 PM
SharonA 15 Sep 09 - 06:43 PM
SharonA 15 Sep 09 - 06:51 PM
Bobert 15 Sep 09 - 07:27 PM
GUEST,Arthur Stiffy 15 Sep 09 - 08:14 PM
RobbieWilson 16 Sep 09 - 08:29 AM
GUEST,SM 26 Sep 09 - 02:55 PM
Bobert 26 Sep 09 - 05:29 PM
fumblefingers 26 Sep 09 - 06:05 PM
GUEST,SM 26 Sep 09 - 08:15 PM
GUEST,haywire 26 Sep 09 - 09:12 PM
GUEST 21 Apr 10 - 11:10 PM
Bobert 22 Apr 10 - 01:00 PM
jeffp 23 Apr 10 - 10:44 AM
GUEST,Damn Yankee Pete 10 May 10 - 12:11 AM
GUEST,Robin 08 Jun 10 - 01:26 AM
Bobert 08 Jun 10 - 09:53 PM
GUEST,Whistle Stop 09 Jun 10 - 01:57 PM
mkebenn 09 Jun 10 - 04:50 PM
GUEST,Guest, KaraokeSC 10 Oct 10 - 03:03 PM
GUEST,Don in NC 15 May 11 - 03:30 PM
Jayto 16 May 11 - 08:30 AM
GUEST,Patsy 17 May 11 - 08:14 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:



Subject: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: Roughyed
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 05:16 PM

The fourth line of the second verse of Steve Earle's Copperhead Road goes 'Just shot a coat of primer and he looked inside' as far as I can discover. Maybe I'm being dense but I can't make out what this means. The context is as follows:

'Now Daddy ran whisky in a big black Dodge
Bought it at an auction at the Masons Lodge
Johnson County sheriff painted on the side
Just shot a coat of primer then he looked inside.'

The only sense I can make of this is that it should be 'short a coat of primer' i.e. to paint over the sherriff's logo but none of the versions I can find say this. Anyone got an explanation?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: Bobert
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 05:43 PM

The line, if I am not mistaken is "loaded" inside... which is meant to be with moonshine liquir..

Hey, I might be wrong, but I've been playin' this song for many a year and that's the way I learned the danged thing.

Bobert


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: open mike
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 06:06 PM

oh i thought you were maybe one of the over seas mud cats not knowin' what a copper head was...i think they are pit vipers...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: Roughyed
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 06:29 PM

I am an overseas Mudcatter, but then we all are to someone else! I did know what a copperhead was, thanks. I think the choice of that name for the road gives it a nice threatening edge which fits in with the fact that people keep disappearing down there.

Bobert's line makes sense and I'm quite happy with that if no-ones got any better explanations. I hate singing lines I don't understand. I'd never considered singing this particular song but I found the riff works brilliantly on the Irish bouzouki my wife just bought me and it was too much funto pass up.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: Bobert
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 06:50 PM

Swan: I've heard Steve Earle sing it live and I think you'll be okay with "loaded".

I've always enjoyed playin' it but ya' gotta keep yer (copper)head on it. You can't fake it 'cause the words come fast and furious. I don't play mandolin but play it in D Model tuning my way. It's still Steve Earle'ish but badly Boberdized.

I love the song but, heck, there ain't much that Steve has written that I don't love. I was the one who stared the "Favorite Steve Earle Song" thread.

Speakin' of Steve Erale, Mudcat has it's Eric Kelly, who has a real DSteve Earle sound of his own. He sent me a CD and I loved it....

Bobert


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: Roughyed
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 06:59 PM

Thanks Bobert. I think you have to make a song your own to perform it, even if it's written by someone else and I'd love to hear your version. You're right about the words. You have to get the phrasing right or you're a few words over at the end of the line. Be well and happy.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: Midchuck
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 07:06 PM

Just a shock coat of primer when you looked inside.

That is, he primed the interior quick to keep it from rusting, and didn't feel he needed to do any further interior finish work...it was strictly a working vehicle.

Peter.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: ciarili
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 09:00 PM

I musta heard this album a thousand times, as it's what my caving buddies always played on the way to going caving. My brother bought me the tape way back when after I told him about that. Here's the verse in question from Copperhead Road:

Now Daddy ran the whiskey in a big black Dodge
Bought it at an auction at the Mason's Lodge
Johnson County Sheriff painted on the side
Just shot a coat of primer then he looked inside
Well him and my uncle tore that engine down
I still remember that rumblin' sound
Well the sheriff came around in the middle of the night
Heard mama cryin', knew something wasn't right
He was headed down to Knoxville with the weekly load
You could smell the whiskey burnin' down Copperhead Road

It makes more sense when you see the whole thing. He used the primer to get rid of the Johnson County Sheriff mark!

www.steveearle.net/lyrics.htm


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 09:09 PM

Well, Swan, Peter is somewhat right but you're original lines apparently is coorect. I have checked with Steve Eare's "unofficial " web site and I'm sitting here with the LP (as in vynal) and the words are inside and the line is:

"Just shot a coat of primer then he looked inside"

Hmmmmm? Been doing the song "Bobertized" more than I thought. I personally like my line better (Sorry, Steve...) but I think I know what he meant and I'm speakin' from some level of experience here in that I have bought many a police cars and sold 'em to a guty in New York for cabs. So, I reckon Steve was talkin' about the day his daddy bought the car at the auction at the Mason's Lodge. Well, when they sell 'em 'round these parts they do sometimes spary paint over where the official insignia was. So I reckon he could have gone to the auction, noticed the car with the spray paint on it and "looked inside".

But now if ya' think I'm gonna change the way I do Steve's song, it ain't gonna happen. I'll have to write him and tell him that we Catfolk have found an errant or poorly worded line in one of his songs.

Bobert


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST,truckerdave
Date: 08 Dec 02 - 01:33 AM

That don't make sense at all and i don't think steve earle would put a line in a song that didn't make sense. Maybe i heard it wrong but i thought he said "shot a coat of primer then he let things slide".You know, just primed over the sheriff logo and let it be. You wouldn't waste much time on cosmetics on a moonshine runners car. I've seen quite a few old police cars that way. Perhaps the lyrics on the album are wrong? Wouldn't be the first time by far. I also thought it was "headed down to knoxville with the weekend load." Maybe this is on the misheard lyrics website. I play the rythym in open G on a dobro capoed up to the fifth fret with a friend playing kind of lead on acoustic guitar. Try it with a pick, the harmonics ring like a bell. We were pretty proud of our version until i heard steve earle and another guy on NPR one day playing it exactly the same way. Like to fell out of my chair. Here i will place the obligatory computer terminology for an expression of great amusement and surprise, "LOL". Steve Earle has a dobro too i discovered.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: ciarili
Date: 08 Dec 02 - 02:43 PM

If he had let things slide, would he have torn the engine down?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST,truckerdave
Date: 08 Dec 02 - 06:32 PM

I went back and listened to 2 different versions. Sure enough he says "then he looked inside". For what, only steve earle knows. Still don't make any sense to me and i know how to paint cars. For one thing no one primers the inside of a car unless you are completely restoring it. I assume that line is taken into the context of primering over the sheriff logo. If you look inside a car you're looking for something. If you've already bought it and brought it back to your shop you know darn well what's in it unless he maybe meant looking under the back seat to figure out what to remove to make more room for a whiskey load. They would cut out parts of the back seat to make more room for the load and hop up the motors. The cars already had heavy duty police suspension and brakes. That would be the only thing i could think of and that's probably what steve meant, however that line as you guys have demonstrated is completely lost on most folks in the year 2002 that are not familiar with bootleggers and dry counties in the US. If you're a savvy used car dealer you always check under the back seat. There could be anything from jewelry to a gun back there. I found $500 worth of gold jewelry under one and a friend found a Nazi SS dagger under another. I'll continue to sing it the way i always did, just tell steve earle i "fixed" it for him. If anyone is interested there is a show coming on the History Channel tomorrow night about bootleggers, moonshine runners, etc.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: Raptor
Date: 09 Dec 02 - 11:03 AM

I've got a question!

Do any of you U.S. fans own steve's album "Shut up and Die like an Aviator" recorded in Kitchoner Ontario?

If so does it have a Maple leaf on the cover?

Raptor


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: Stu
Date: 09 Dec 02 - 11:23 AM

I like the idea of playing this on a bouzouki ? are there any chords and standard notation anyone can point me to?

stigWeard


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST,Jenny the T
Date: 09 Dec 02 - 03:49 PM

Well, I don't know, now, but it seems obvious to me:

He took care of the outside (obliterating the old sheriff's logo) with a quick 'n' easy coat of primer. Then he moved on to the more time-consuming part, inside the engine compartment ("he looked inside"), rebuilding the engine and souping it up so it'd go well enough to outrun the revenooers when necessary.

That's what it says to me, anyhow ...

JtT


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST,drm_riter@yahoo.com
Date: 03 Nov 03 - 04:27 AM

The line is, "shot a coat of primer on the left-hand side" My ancestors ran everclear - a passing police car would only see the left-hand side. get it?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: Willie-O
Date: 03 Nov 03 - 06:35 AM

I'm with Jenny T. The diction isn't great but the meaning is obvious--gave it a quick spray-coat of primer, then (well, the next day) got under the hood and worked on the motor.

What would be the point of spraying the left side only? Cops aren't always in the other lane, at least half the time they're sitting on the shoulder, on your right.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: richlmo
Date: 04 Nov 03 - 10:41 PM

Jenny T. has it. I always thought the looked inside meant ,looked inside the hood.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: richlmo
Date: 04 Nov 03 - 10:45 PM

By the way, a copperhead is a pit viper. Very plentiful in North Carolina , where I live. Pretty poisonous, too.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: ToulouseCruise
Date: 05 Nov 03 - 05:52 PM

Not much difference to what is said, but I'll say it anyhoo....

Just shot a coat of primer -- Only did enough to get it able to be driven without looking like Roscoe P. Coltrain -- then he looked inside... basically I think that the interior of the car was completely secondary to the purpose of the car, basically that it was bought based on the potential engine and heavy duty chassis, and who gave a dang about the inside of it... basically, refers to it being an afterthought after he already purchased it...

(When I perform the song, by the way, I always change the "Johnson County" line to a local county name, one that is a tad bit backwoods... always gets a great response... Right along with "Sweet Home Albert County / Where the moonshine burns so blue / Sweet Home Albert County / The RCMP are looking for you!".. but I digress)

Brian.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 07:01 PM

Johnson country sherif painted on the side - painted being a metaphore for shooting

Just shot a coat of primer then he looked inside -- shot his primer (ammo) at the dodge, 'coating' it, then he looked inside

i always take it that john lee petimore dad gets shot 2 crap bonnie and clide style


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: Amergin
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 07:14 PM

Wow...some people like to read more into lyrics than there actually are....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: Bobert
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 08:31 PM

Hmmmmmmm??? I thought it pretained more to the auction where they bought the car... Lotta ex-cop cars go to auction and make darned good cars to use for taxis or for "grocery getter" stock car racers... I donno???

Bobert


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: romanyman
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 05:03 PM

when my mate from texas comes over to see me and he is a real petrol head, what ever car or truck ive got , he has to tinker with it to make it run better and he always always says pop the hood ill take a look inside, hmm perhaps the line refers to painting out the sheriff logo then looking inside the engine bay before the engine tear down, just a thought, but when he came over last time he said the same thing to the friend he brought with him to visit me and as soon as he said ill just take a look inside, his buddy walked straight to the front of the car to pop the hood, maybe a texas thing dunno


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: SharonA
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 08:01 PM

"Just shot a coat of primer then he looked inside"

Since the next two lines have to do with the car's engine...
"Well him and my uncle tore that engine down
I still remember that rumblin' sound"

...it seems perfectly obvious that "he looked inside" means "he opened the hood of the car and examined the engine with the intention of rebuilding it".

By the way, I take the rest of the verse to mean that the character's father died in the wreck of the whiskey-filled car (possibly after a police chase); anything less, such as his arrest, would not have caused the character's mother such grief. Am I correct in this assumption?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: robomatic
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 10:45 PM

SharonA I agree with your interpretation and your surmise. That song is a novel in three and a half minutes! Love it Love it Love it.

If you ever watched the series "The Wire" Steve Earle has a part in it as a twelve steps partner to one of the main characters. One of his songs made the soundtrack.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: open mike
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 02:49 PM

as a follow up on the zoological references..
the copper head is related to the cottonmouth and water moccasin

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/gaston/Pests/reptiles/copperhead.htm
http://www.snakesandfrogs.com/scra/snakes/copperh.htm

http://www.wf.net/~snake/moccasin.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agkistrodon_piscivorus


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: semi-submersible
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 06:20 PM

I like the way Jenny the T and SharonA explain the line. No other explanation made as much sense.

I misunderstood the rest of the verse at first, but I agree with you, SharonA:

Line 6: The child (who was to become the narrator) remembers the uniquely deep rumble of the souped-up engine after his Daddy and uncle finished their rebuild.

7: A sheriff came in the night, to tell Mama about Daddy's accident.

8: Mama's reaction woke the child, and forewarned him of the bad news he was about to hear.

9, 10: The last lines of the verse about Daddy give images of the scene which ended his life.

The vivid sense of Daddy's character and the narrator's home, the irony, powerful imagery, and the natural way in which the "Copperhead Road" refrain and other structural elements of the song fit into a compelling story, all show the writer's mastery.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: SharonA
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 06:43 PM

Hi, Semi-Sub. Yes, that's exactly the way I think of that verse.

This, of course, follows the death of the character's grandfather at the hands of the revenue man, in verse 1.

Now the tone is set for the character's "brand new plan" in verse 3 -- a plan to avenge the deaths of the previous two John Lee Pettimores and to carry on the family business of dealing in illegal substances. He uses the tricks he learned from the North Vietnamese about boobytrapping and sniping in order to kill anyone from the DEA who attempts to destroy his marijuana crop or arrest him at his home on Copperhead Road.

But as you say, Semi-Sub, Earle says all of that in a masterfully crafted song -- not only in the lyrics but also in the tune and the arrangement.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: SharonA
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 06:51 PM

Oops -- my bad -- I should have read the lyrics more carefully. The character's home may or may not have been on Copperhead Road (up the holler from the town), but the moonshine still and the marijuana field definitely were.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: Bobert
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 07:27 PM

Well, yeah, his daddy did burn up...

It all makes sense when Earle wrote the last verse in sayin', "and I came home with a brand new plan" and then even implyin' that he, unlike his daddy "and his daddy before" he'd be ready for John Law...

BTW, I do this song on my CD "13 Shades of Blues" (Sidewalk Bob) which can be purchased (or sample heard) at CDBaby... (shameless plug)...

B~


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST,Arthur Stiffy
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 08:14 PM

Why the **** is song this not yet a movie ?
In the hands of a good indie writer/director team
it would be a potential classic.

Even John Mellencamp turned out a pretty good personal movie project
back in the 90's.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 08:29 AM

Sharon, I have always taken the first verse to say that the revenue man never came back from Copperhead Road, the second to be about an ambush of his daddys weekly run and the third verse to be a return to his grandaddy's defiance.

Incidentally I play this on a standard tuned guitar, but with capo on the first five strings, second fret. This is a bit like playing in dropped D and gives a great drone on the open E string. It also means that when you play your G shape you play it as normal, unlike when you actually drop the string down to D. This is how SE played it when I saw him at Brampton festival a couple of years back.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST,SM
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 02:55 PM

"Shot a coat of primer" is correct. Painting cars is done with a spray gun, so you would 'shoot' or 'spray' a coat of primer on the auto body. 'Shot' is just past tense.

All in all it means that his daddy bought an ex-police car (already high performance), sprayed over the logo with just primer, and then turned their attention to the engine, tearing down a high mileage engine for a re-ring, maybe boring out the block, or other preformance modifications.

In fact, NASCAR racing has its roots from bootleggers who did performance modifications to their cars.

Also, it's "big block Dodge" not "big black Dodge". This refers to they type of engine, a "big block" engine.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: Bobert
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 05:29 PM

"Big block Dodge".... Hmmmmm??? Well, okay... Reckon I'll have to change that next time I do the song... Makes sense seein' as police cars haven't been black since forever...

B~


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: fumblefingers
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 06:05 PM

He probably used the line because it was all he could think of that rhymed and fit at the time.

"Just shot a coat o'primer..." doesn't actually say that he only painted over the logo. A "coat" indicates that he primed the whole thing.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST,SM
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 08:15 PM

use your google-fu:

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22shoot+a+coat+of+primer%22

The present tense is fairly common as a phrase. If you use the verbatim song line, though, you'll get a lot of lyrics pages.

I agree, a 'coat' indicates the whole car was covered, not just the logo.

Also, "big black" vs. "big block" isn't helped any by the actual video for the song, because the car shown is black.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST,haywire
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 09:12 PM

I knew a kid in college who ran 'shine in Georgia during his summers to dry counties around Atlanta. He would put several platic gas cans of whiskey in the trunk and remove most of the interior and stick cans in there as well. Maybe the interior space of a full-size dodge was appealing as well.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Apr 10 - 11:10 PM

He just painted over everything on the car then in the next verse it explains that they took the engine apart and made it run on moonshine


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: Bobert
Date: 22 Apr 10 - 01:00 PM

Sorry, but I ain't buyin' that one, GUEST... A gallon of good shine will fetch upwards of a hunnert dollars... A gallon of race fuel about $7...

The reason that they torn that engine down was to modify it to get more horsepower... Lotta ways to do that but the common ones are:

*cylindar boring and bigger pistons
*stroking with different crankshaft to get a longer stroke
*bigger valves to allow more air/gas in thru the intake valve and more exhaust out
*millin' the head to increase comprssion ratio
*tuned exhaust headers to get the exhaust out
*different camshaft with more life and longer duration
*larger intake manifold with options for mutliple carburators

You do that to an engine and now yer ready to outrun Smokey... But beware of Smokey's radio... It's real quick... lol...

B~


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: jeffp
Date: 23 Apr 10 - 10:44 AM

It's no surprise that the first stock car drivers were former moonshine runners.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST,Damn Yankee Pete
Date: 10 May 10 - 12:11 AM

Big Black Dodge!! or Big Block Dodge!! I love it either way. I spent 15 years (I'm only 29, first heard this song at 8!) building and painting derby cars for various fellers. One guy I had worked with, nothing but Chrysler's, Dodge's. pretty much the strongest cars I ever saw, run them 2 times a night, bring 'em back 2 nights later for the 2nd day, run them 2 more times, and maybe the following year. I want that big black 69 Coronet late in the video....best looking car ever.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST,Robin
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 01:26 AM

Sharon's explanation is the one and it's big block Dodge. This song could be my dad's life. He's gone now, so I can tell it. He ran whiskey to upper East Tenn. from Knoxville in the 1980s (dry counties in Ky. & no liquor in our part of Tn.). That's after he built and raced Mopars for years.
Shot a coat of primer (like with a spray gun) was enough to cover the sheriff logo like somebody said. The car was for practical purposes -- outrunnin' the law. And cars don't run on moonshine. I'm not a musician but the lyrics/diction, choice of bagpipes and ghostly echo embody such a life. I cannot hear it without weeping.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: Bobert
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 09:53 PM

So, Robin... What do you think about the line "looked in side"??? I been doing the song since, well, forever and I always sing "loaded inside"???

But I did know about the "shot of coat of primer" 'casue when they sell these cars at auctions they have sherriff decals on 'um...,

I also sing "big black dodge: cause alot of cop cars were black but I now believe it to be "big block dodge" 'cause it's been a long time since cop cars were black... I actaully did buy a "twuz-a-fzz" '74 Dodge and it was blue... Had a big ol' 440 engine... Wouldn't win no drag races but top out at a buck forty...

B~


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST,Whistle Stop
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 01:57 PM

I used to be a member here, just decided to drop by and see what's going on. Big Steve Earle fan.

Those of us with roots in the southern (or mid-southern) US might have an easier time than Brits at interpreting American slang. I agree that it was a "shot coat of primer" (a single coat from a spray gun; quick and easy, doesn't have to be pretty), and then he "looked inside" to rebuild the engine, and maybe also to take out the seats for more carrying capacity (you don't need the room for passengers, you need it for cargo). The context makes it seem pretty obvious to me.

As for "copperhead," yes, it's a poisonous snake, but it's also something else. In the American Civil War, which still informs a lot of our American mythology, antiwar Northerners who advocated that the South be allowed to secede were called Copperheads. Most of them lived in or near border areas, like West Virginia and Kentucky, where sympathies were mixed, and which also happen to be areas where moonshining (distilling illegal liquor) was big. Copperheads were ostracized by other northerners, which added to their already strong sense of isolation and lawlessness. I always figured that Steve was using the name "Copperhead Road" to strengthen the Appalachian links in the story and underscore the suggestion that this was outlaw territory.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: mkebenn
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 04:50 PM

Bobert, I believe "looked inside" is poppin' the hood to check the mill. And Open Mike, a copperhead can't be related to a water moccasin and a cottonmouth, 'cause they're the same critter. They are pit vipers like all the rattlesnakes, though. Mike


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST,Guest, KaraokeSC
Date: 10 Oct 10 - 03:03 PM

There are two separate actions here. "Shot a coat of primer," and "looked inside." Of course the primer is to change the apearance of the outside of the car - make it plain and inconspicous. As a hot-rodding mechanic will say, "Looked inside" is the next critical step for the car - looking inside the engine compartment - this is confirmed by the next line: "him and my uncle tore that engine down."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST,Don in NC
Date: 15 May 11 - 03:30 PM

You are correct, shot a coat of primer is just covering up the Johnson's County Sheriff logo on the door of the car. Primer is a base coat that goes on prior to laying the actual color coat. It is used as a sanding coat to smooth out the imperfections before the shiny goes on. It is cheap, flat in color, and easy to spray on. Looking inside is seeing what is under the hood to see what you have to work with from a power perspective. Steve Earle and I are both within a few years of the sane age. Law enforcement agencies in the late 50's and 60's used Dodge and Plymouth cars because they were so big and powerful. They even spent their own money on their patrol cars to try and get them to the point so they could keep up with the ne'er do wells. I was one of the the ne'er do wells. I did not haul liquor, but I have raced and outran many of them. My grandfather did not make it, but he gave others free ride on his property to make it. He had good land, plenty of natural springs, and plenty of natural cover. He even had corn to sell if the time and price was right.

I am replying to a string that is about four years old. I just ran across something that interested me. I hope someone sees it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: Jayto
Date: 16 May 11 - 08:30 AM

Now Daddy ran whisky in a big black Dodge
Bought it at an auction at the Masons Lodge
Johnson County sheriff painted on the side
Just shot a coat of primer then he looked inside.'


Around my area the term "shot" is really common. It is used whenever anything is thrown, pitched or covered with something. It is used in a bunch of different ways. So I always took it as he coated the car with primer. I am in Western KY and it is a pretty common saying around here. I have to admit I am reading this in a rush. Am I correct that the word in question is "shot"?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Copperhead Road - explanation of line
From: GUEST,Patsy
Date: 17 May 11 - 08:14 AM

Thanks a lot I used to play this over and over, now I know what I have been dancing to.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
Next Page

  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 23 November 6:57 PM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.