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Boomer Anthems: Long Cool Woman In a Black Dress

Believe it or not, the lyrics to the song actually appear in this video.


Bart Herbison: I’ve always wanted to talk to you about “Long Cool Woman.” Was there ever a bigger hit in history where people don’t understand the words?

Roger Cook: That is wild, isn’t it? Allan loved all that slapback echo on his voice.

BH: This is the Hollies.

RC: Yeah. And that’s the reason you can hardly understand the words. And, of course, the words are a kind of a little English-y. We wrote it in England about the bootlegging days in the ’30s in America. … We’d just gone out and had a skinful ourselves, you know? We came back to the office and thought it was fun to write a song about — What did they call it when they banned drinking?

BH: Prohibition.

RC: Prohibition! So, we wrote a song about Prohibition and all the bad people surrounding it. The FBI raiding and this (woman) singing at the bar. (The narrator) doesn’t want her to get in trouble. So he kind of saves her….

Saturday night I was downtown
Working for the FBI
Sitting in a nest of bad men
Whiskey bottles piling high

Bootlegging boozer on the west side
Full of people who are doing wrong
Just about to call up the DA man
When I heard this woman singing a song

A pair of 45’s made me open my eyes
My temperature started to rise
She was a long cool woman in a black dress
Just a 5’9″ beautiful tall
With just one look I was a bad mess
Cause that long cool woman had it all

I saw her heading to the table
Well a tall walking big black cat
When Charlie said “I hope that you’re able boy”
Well I’m telling you she knows where it’s at
Well then suddenly we heard the sirens
And everybody started to run
Jumping under doors and tables
Well I heard somebody shooting a gun

Well the DA was pumping my left hand
And she was holding my right
Well I told her, “Don’t get scared
cause you’re gonna be spared”
Well I’m gonna be forgiven
If I wanna spend my living
With a long cool woman in a black dress
Just a 5’9″ beautiful tall
With just one look I was a bad mess
Cause that long cool woman had it all
Had it all, had it all, had it all…

HT: Terry H.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ghostsniper September 20, 2018, 7:47 PM

    just a five nine beautiful tall

    One of the many cool toonz in my senior jr of high school, 1972.

  • ghostsniper September 20, 2018, 7:48 PM

    senior yr jeez

  • bob sykes September 21, 2018, 5:14 AM

    Great song.

    Almost as good as “Born to Be Wild,” another anthem.

    Fall ’72… Sat in Ohio Stadium and watched Archie Griffin’s first play from scrimmage. He tore up our opponent that day. Wake Forrest?

  • Casey Klahn September 21, 2018, 6:44 AM

    More corruption by the FBI. Sniff.

  • Terry September 21, 2018, 8:44 AM

    My wife (also a long cool woman in a black dress) sent me the link a couple days ago. I could not resist forwarding it to Gerard. Perfect for American Digest.

    Casey K. I said the exact same thing to my wife last evening.

    Probably my new favorite in music since I now know the lyrics and history of how the piece was made. Fantastic guitar and bass lead-in. The vocal is beyond comparison. In my opinion of course.

    Superb video work as well-

  • Charles September 21, 2018, 9:57 AM

    UT 1971. Great song!

  • Callmelennie September 21, 2018, 10:00 AM

    Sorry, Gerard but I truly believe that the notions “song by The Hollies” and “boomer anthem” are so inimical and discordant that they shouldn’t appear together in the same 10,000 word essay … let alone in the title of an internet posting

    Now take “Baba O’Reilly” .. please ….. and give that the boomer anthem treatment. You probably dont appreciate it, as it was THE anthem for your goofy kid brother — you know, the one who was born in the mid-Fifties. Just take our word for it totally awesome, ma-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-n.

  • Sam L. September 21, 2018, 10:14 AM

    I never knew the words. Clearly, it makes no difference. LOVE the song.

  • Jeff Brokaw September 21, 2018, 10:48 AM

    Finally!! I literally had no idea on half of the words in this great song.

    But at least I never thought Hendrix sang “scuse me while I kiss this guy”.

  • Vanderleun September 21, 2018, 11:11 AM

    Lennie, how do you know my kid brother is goofy and was born in the mid 50s?

  • Mary Ann September 21, 2018, 1:53 PM

    My husband was in a band that played all over the country in the 70’s. Mostly the small to medium clubs that existed at that time. He played keyboards, B3 mostly. This was one of the few songs he sang solo. He never knew all the words. As long as people heard “long cool woman in a black dress” and “bad mess” it didn’t seem to matter.

  • Skorpion September 21, 2018, 2:57 PM

    Meh. The Hollies had FAR better singles, like “Look Through Any Window” and “Bus Stop.”

    This one always sounded like a blatant ripoff of Creedence Clearwater Revival.