"Carolina Drama" as written by and Brendan Benson John Anthony White....
I'm not sure if there's a point to this story
But I'm going to tell it again
So many other people try to tell the tale
Not one of them knows the end

It was a junk-house in South Carolina
Held a boy the age of ten
Along with his older brother Billy
And a mother and her boyfriend
Who was a triple loser with some blue tattoos
That were given to him when he was young
And a drunk temper that was easy to lose
And thank god he didn't own a gun

Well, Billy woke up in the back of his truck
Took a minute to open his eyes
He took a peep into the back of the house
And found himself a big surprise
He didn't see his brother but there was his mother
With her red-headed head in her hands
While the boyfriend had his gloves wrapped around an old priest
Trying to choke the man

Ah Ah Ahh...

Billy looked up from the window to the truck
Threw up, and had to struggle to stand
He saw that red-necked bastard with a hammer
Turn the priest into a shell of a man
The priest was putting up the fight of his life
But he was old and he was bound to lose
The boyfriend hit as hard as he could
And knocked the priest right down to his shoes

Well, now Billy knew but never actually met
The preacher lying there in the room
He heard himself say, "That must be my daddy"
Then he knew what he was gonna do
Billy got up enough courage, took it up
And grabbed the first blunt thing he could find
It was a cold, glass bottle of milk
That got delivered every morning at nine

Ah Ah Ahh...

Billy broke in and saw the blood on the floor, and
He turned around and put the lock on the door
He looked dead into the boyfriend's eye
His mother was a ghost, too upset to cry, then

He took a step toward the man on the ground
From his mouth trickled out a little audible sound
He heard the boyfriend shout, "Get out!"
And Billy said, "Not till I know what this is all about"
"Well, this preacher here was attacking your mama"

But Billy knew just who was starting the drama
So Billy took dead aim at his face
And smashed the bottle on the man who left his dad in disgrace, and
The white milk dripped down with the blood, and the
Boyfriend fell down dead for good
Right next to the preacher who was gasping for air
And Billy shouted, "Daddy, why'd you have to come back here?"

His mama reached behind the sugar and honey, and
Pulled out an envelope filled with money
"Your daddy gave us this," she collapsed in tears
"He's been paying all the bills for years"
"Mama, let's put this body underneath the trees
And put Daddy in the truck and head to Tennessee"
Just then, his little brother came in
Holding the milk man's hat and a bottle of gin singing,

La la la la, la la la la, yeah
La la la la, la la la la, yeah
La la la la, la la la la, yeah
La la la, la la la...

La la la la, la la la la, yeah
La la la la, la la la la, yeah
La la la la, la la la la, yeah
La la la, la la la...

La la la la, la la la la, yeah
La la la la, la la la la, yeah
La la la la, la la la la, yeah
La la la la, la la la la, yeah

Well now you heard another side to the story
But you wanna know how it ends?
If you must know, the truth about the tale
Go and ask the milkman


Lyrics submitted by JustFetus

"Carolina Drama" as written by Brendan Benson John Anthony White

Lyrics © CHRYSALIS MUSIC (DIGITAL ONLY) , CHRYSALIS MUSIC OBO GLADSAD MUSIC

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Carolina Drama song meanings
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97 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentBeautiful isn't it?

    A literal story, I don't see any hidden meaning in it. One of The Raconteurs' best.
    JustFetuson March 23, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General Commentmodern day Rocky Racoon
    Mothra666on March 26, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIts real easy but you have to first read the lyrics from The ickens County Bandits song called "Ask the Milkman"

    It starts out - "The milk man came late last night.
    Mama let him in and turned out the light."
    The mom was sleeping with the Milkman. Which would make 3 people she was/is sleeping with:
    1 - Preacher
    2 - Boyfriend
    3 - Milkman

    "Momma's boyfriend came back to town
    All he does is smack her around"

    Same as what Jake White said about the BF.

    "Sunday I get to meet my pa"

    Again same as White said when Billy met his Dad.

    "Mama's boyfriend's blood, Is soakin' in the mud"

    Billy hitting him with the milk bottle and killing him.
    The end is the real part to listen to.

    "The milk man delivers the milk late today
    The door is locked but he gets to walk away"

    That last two lines means this. The milkman was late, and the door to the house was locked. Go back to Whites version where he said Billy turned around and locked the door. Now in the original version the last line is "The door is locked but he gets to walk away." The milkman saw what was happening, turned and ran, his hat flys off his head when Billy's brother picks it up and walks in with it. The milkman was lucky that the door was locked or he would have been killed by Billy as well so that there is no witnesses. The bottle of gin means nothing. And Whites last line about go and ask the milkman, is just stating the title of the original song. Becuase the milkman knows what really happened.
    trobeson September 11, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think there's more to the story than it seems. Is it possible that the milk man is the father and maybe the preacher was actually attacking the mother? The fact that the boy came in with the milk man's hat has to mean something.
    derekjmon April 08, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe preacher was at the house dropping off money, but I don't think he's the boys' dad. I reckon it's what the mom told her kids to explain why she's a single mother. And also a little play on words of how catholic priests are called "Father".

    The little brother holding the milkman's hat seems to mean that the mom was sleeping with the milkman.

    For a while my theory was that the milkman is also the boyfriend. While dropping off the milk, he saw the preacher with the mom and went into a jealous rage. But I don't think a "triple loser" like him would be able to hold a job, much less be so reliable to drop off a bottle of milk at the home every morning at 9.

    So my current theory is that the boyfriend knew the mom was shagging someone else and when he saw the priest, he thought that was his rival and attacked. The brothers and the mother ran away, so the milkman's the only one left in town who knows the real story.
    jayemkton April 09, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love how you can hear the la la las getting louder and louder in the background, as if you're hearing the little brother outside walking towards the house, then he bursts in and the la la las come to the foreground. Fantastic imagery.
    SpaceMonkeyAuon April 05, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe way he pays all the bills makes me think he's more of a literal father rather than a play on words.

    No one, including someone like a priest, is going to pay bills, unless they had a kid out of wedlock, and won't be there to directly support them.
    PBNon April 09, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentEvery album Jack White touches has its red-head. Here she is, in this song
    "He didn't see his brother but there was his mother
    With her red-headed head in her hands"
    kwynnaon April 13, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentjayemkt has nailed it with his most current theory.
    to summarize
    The Milkman = Who the moms been sleeping with
    The Boyfriend = Attackin the priest
    The Priest = The father, who has JUST appeared
    The boyfriend saw the priest and confused him as who the milkman really was
    The fathers either dead or critically injured so the brothers put him in a truck and run away with their mom from the abusive boyfriend whose dead or near death (awaiting a very soon certain death) leaving all of the troubles they had with that town - including the milkman who will be the only one who can figure out what had happened.
    TheAbsolutionHowlon April 18, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThank God for Bob Dylan.

    Without him, there would be no Jack White, no White Stripes and no Raconteurs.


    This song is so unbelievably Dylan-esque.

    Its strange, baffling though.

    III
    jacobstormon April 27, 2008   Link

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