Wanda had a baby in nineteen fifty one.
The father was stranger and a stranger was the son.
Call that child James Lewis, call these rooms a home.
Changing all them diapers polish all that chrome.
See'mon, baby, spend the night with me
All around the schoolyard playing all the games
Running, laughing back and forth the kid with two first names
Stranger in the closet, lock the diary
The past is running faster singing harmony
See'mon, baby, spend the night with me
"God bless this kitchen" said the knick-knack shelf
"The dinner's almost ready Go and wash yourself"
Jimmy's growing up now and Wanda's growing old
The time is growin' shorter the nights are long and cold
See'mon, baby, spend the night with me
Sneaking in the closet and through the diary
Now, don't you know all he saw was all there was to see
The whole town saw Jimmy on the six o'clock news
His brains were on the sidewalk and blood was on his shoes
See'mon, baby, spend the night with me
See'mon, baby, spend the night with me

Lyrics submitted by SongMeanings, edited by Walleke, Gsolis

"Six O'Clock News" as written by John Prine

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Six O'Clock News song meanings
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  • +1
    My Interpretation6 O'clock News is about a boy who finds out that he is a result of the incestual relationship his mother had with her father. The truth is locked away in the diary which is locked away in the closet.

    Jimmy as he grows, finds the truth in the diary and commits suicide.

    "C'mon Baby, spend the night with me", would be Wanda's father speaking to her.

    And I've always assumed Jimmy jumped to his death.

    I've assumed this was the story behind this tragic song and have found multiple references to it on the web.
    Okemoon May 23, 2012   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningActually...I got to investigating it a bit and found this quote from John himself from the liner notes of the album.

    "As a child, a neighborhood kid who was always in trouble chose me for a friend. His brothers pushed him around a lot, and his mother generally ignored him. Years later as a teenager, still always in trouble, he ended up in Juvenile Court and the prosecutor decided to tell the court and my friend, that his father was his father, but his mother was his oldest sister. No wonder he was always in trouble". ~John Prine
    Okemoon May 23, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is so sad it makes me cry. its about a kid that grows up not knowing his father, and gets into "trouble" for it. it ends up with him going out and being killed, but could also be taken that he went out to find the dad who abandoned him and actually murdered him. i love the way john repeats the line "c'mon baby, spend the night with me" which i believe is the father of the child to the mother. it is a constant reminder us all what can happen as a result of a one night stand and premature relationship. jp is sooo gr8!
    sk84urlifeon May 21, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this tragic story of a boy who finds out the secret of who his father is and winds up killing himself. And then you have his lonely, love-seeking mother.... pure hurt.

    Now, imagine that the person telling this story (narrator, if you wish) is Wanda - speaking of herself in the third person. Spine-chilling....
    crazypoeton June 30, 2008   Link
  • -1
    My InterpretationThe song is about a boy who grows up estranged from his father. He struggles with feelings of homosexuality, but loses the struggle and commits suicide. John Prine offers to have slept with him if that is what it would have taken to prevent the suicide.
    Wallekeon October 04, 2016   Link

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