Great song

For no reason whatsoever, here is one of my favorite songs, Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress by The Hollies, released in 1972. The song had a great beat and music but the lyrics were hard to decipher by just listening to them, and reading them later did not help because they seem to make little sense.


  1. Jim B says

    I had never read the lyrics, but they make sense to me.

    He is an undercover FBI agent, hanging out with bad guys he is monitoring, drinking and just trying to fit in. He is about to call the Distract Attorney (apparently he had enough evidence at that point for whatever he was monitoring) when an attractive woman showed up. The 45’s he is talking about is a double entendre — the 45s apparently are talking about music 45 RPM records, but the he is slyly referencing her 45 inch bust.

    He started towards her to make a move and Charlie says, good luck, you’ll need it with her as she knows what she is no innocent woman. But just then, someone starts firing a gun, the police rush in to break things up. The DA was congratulating him for his undercover work (pumping his left hand) but he had successfully gotten the girls attention (she’s on the right). He tells her don’t worry about getting busted, because he’ll make sure they don’t so that he can spend his time with her.

  2. moarscienceplz says

    I have a slightly different take. “Bootlegging boozer on the west side” probably sets it during Prohibition, so the narrator is most likely in a speakeasy, collecting evidence which will be used to prosecute the people about to be arrested when the speak gets raided. That’s why he can spare the woman: his word alone can save or burn anyone.
    I agree the 45s is a double entendre, but it is between her bust and a pair of .45 caliber guns, which were quite common during the 1920s because they had been used during the first World War.

  3. moarscienceplz says

    re the link in #3
    Some of the commenters there reject the speakeasy idea because the Hollies were too young to have experienced Prohibition (also, they were British, so they wouldn’t have anyway), but I think that’s silly. The British band Paper Lace wrote The Night Chicago Died in 1974 which explicitly says it is about Al Capone. The Untouchables was a popular TV show from 1959-63 that was all about Prohibition and the FBI, Some Like it Hot was a popular movie in 1959 that is all about gangsters, so to say that Allan Clarke couldn’t have been thinking about Prohibition doesn’t make sense to me.

  4. says

    People don’t talk much anymore about the “British invasion”, but when they did most assumed that the only choice (and the only choice you were “allowed”) was either the Beatles or Rolling Stones.

    No thanks. The Who and The Hollies were far more interesting to listen to than the other two.

    Other Hollies songs had quite interesting or scandalous lyrics. “Stop, Stop, Stop” was about a stalkerish male leering at a go-go dancer. But unlike a lot of songs in the past that glorified rape culture, the male in that song didn’t get what he wants. The bouncers grab him and throw him out on his ear.

    “Bus Stop” also had lyrics that people didn’t understand. “Someday my name and hers are going to be the same” means they’re going to get married, nothing more obscure.

  5. Matt G says

    A great song indeed, with a distinctive opening riff, and the fun descending bass riff which leads to the alternating two notes which anchor the bass line throughout the song.

  6. DsylexicHippo says

    I have found that, rare exceptions aside, the more indecipherable the lyrics the better. It is the melody and the harmony that draws me to a tune. It is icing on the cake when underlying all that is outstanding lyrics -- I am thinking someone like Paul Simon (more so during Garfunkel days but not even remotely half-bad in his later days either). In most cases, it is a major letdown to figure out garbage-grade words masked by excellent music otherwise.

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