When Charlie Daniels sadly passed away in July of 2020, he left behind a legacy that no one will be able to match.
He simultaneously carried the genre’s traditions, and was a strong voice for keeping the outlaw in country music while realizing a good amount of crossover success. He brought his music to fans outside of the country music world, pushing him to heights few others have or will ever reach.
Songs like “Devil Went Down To Georgia” and “Long Haired Country Boy” became lasting anthems in every corner of the country, while songs like “Uneasy Rider” and “Still In Saigon” showcased his beliefs and opinions on numerous cultural issues of the time, which many country fans heavily resonated with.
But around this time each year, I’m reminded of the great CDB for another reason.
As the pumpkins get carved, orange and black decorations go up, and Halloween costumes get planned, I can’t help but think about not just one of his most underrated songs, but perhaps the greatest spooky song in country music history.
“The Legend Of Wooley Swamp” was the second single released off their 1980 album Full Moon, which also contained fan favorites like “Carolina (I Remember You)” and “In America.”
While the song didn’t have the commercial success of some of its predecessors, it confirmed that Charlie Daniels was a no-joke songwriter, capable of creating fantastic stories that can take your imagination to a dark, dark place.
The song begins with a man refusing to believe the story of a ghost that lives in Wooley Swamp and deciding he has to find out if it’s true for himself. One of the song’s most memorable lines rounds out of this first verse, but the whole thing sets the tone for where this is going to go…
Well, you better not go at night
There’s things out there in the middle of them woods
That make a strong man die from fright
And things that creep around on the ground
And they say the ghost of Lucius Clay
Gets up and he walks around…
There’s some things in this world you just can’t explain”
The song goes on to give the backstory of Lucius Clay and how the ghost came to live in the swamp.
No one tells it better than Charlie, so I’ll just pull a few of my favorite lines from the story, but really you have to listen to really get swept up in the eeriness of the whole thing.
“The old man lived in the Wooley Swamp
Way back in Booger Woods…
They all thought he acted funny
The old man didn’t care about people anyway
All he cared about was his money…
He’d stuff it all down into mason jars
And he’d bury it all around
And on certain nights if the moon was right
He’d dig it up out of the ground…
The Cable boys was white trash
They lived over on Carver’s Creek…
I’ll leave the rest for you to discover if you’ve somehow never heard the song before…
Is “The Legend Of Wooley Swamp” the best spooky country song of all-time?
I sure as hell think so.
From the writing quality, to the creativity of the story, to the fact it’s Charlie damn Daniels, I’d say it’s at the very top and don’t know of any that can take it down…
What do you think?