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Now Smackwater Jack, he bought a shotgun
'Cause he was in the mood for a little confrontation
He just let it all hang loose
He didn't think about the noose
He couldn't take no more abuse
So he shot down the congregation

You can't talk to a man
With a shotgun in his hand

Now Big Jim the chief stood for law and order
He called for the guard to come and surround the border
Now from his bulldog mouth
As he led the posse south
Came the cry, we got to ride
Clean up the streets for our wives and our daughters

You can't talk to a man
When he don't want to understand
No, no, no, no, no, no

The account of the capture wasn't in the papers
But you know, they hanged ole Smack right then instead of later
You know the people were quite pleased
'Cause the outlaw had been seized
And on the whole, it was a very good year
For the undertaker

You know, you know, you can't talk to a man
With a shotgun in his hand
Shotgun in his hand

Smackwater Jack, yeah
Smackwater Jack bought a shotgun
Yeah, Smackwater Jack bought a shotgun
Smackwater Jack, yeah
Smackwater Jack, yeah

Talkin' about Smackwater Jack, yeah
Talkin' about Smackwater Jack, oh
Talkin' about Jack and his shotgun,
Talkin' about Smack, talkin' about Jack
Smackwater Jack, yeah

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    HappyHollyAug 7, 2009 at 10:51 am
    Here's my interpretation:

    Someone called Smackwater Jack was getting tired of the pain he was suffering from a group of people abusing him and others. He decided that he had had enough and decided to confront them. Whether this was with the aid of a shotgun or whether the gun represents his 'threats' to expose the abusers, I am not sure, though I suspect the gun represents the latter. It is not uncommon for a person being threatened with exposure to say that the person confronting them is holding a gun to their head.

    Shot down the congregation suggests that Jack challenged the abusers (congregation) strongly and 'shot down' their rules, reasons or excuses.

    You can't reason with a man who is angry and has a strong intent to challenge the status quo and blow the whistle on the abuse. He is no longer playing by the rules of the abusers. Something stronger is required - to eliminate him.

    So a charge is made and Jack is hunted down by the police officials. Big Jim, part of the group of abusers is an important person in the community and has authority over the police service. He calls for Jack to be hunted with the claim that he is dangerous to others.

    The forces do catch up with Jack but the abusers do not wish the full details to come out in the press. After the capture, rather than arresting him they hang him and make it look like a suicide. (The account of the capture wasn't in the papers).

    The 'people' (abusers) were pleased that someone who had stepped outside of their rules (outlaw) had been silenced.

    It was a good year for the undertaker - suggesting that this was not the only contrived 'suicide' that year and that others who did not conform were disposed of.

    This song serves as an example and threat to others considering challenging those who have power and use this to abuse others as they wish. 'Challenge us and we will get rid of you'.

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