Wallace

Album: Southern Rock Opera (2001)

Songfacts®:

  • George Wallace was an American politician who served two nonconsecutive terms and two consecutive terms as Governor of Alabama from 1963 to 1987. He ran for President of the United States on several occasions and is remembered for his conservative views on segregation.

    A 1972 assassination attempt by Arthur Bremer left Wallace paralyzed, and he had to use a wheelchair for the last 26 years of his life. The southern politician died on September 13, 1998 at the age of 79 from a spinal infection.
  • This song is a track from Southern Rock Opera, Drive-By Truckers conceptual song cycle about a mythical guitar hero based on songwriter Patterson Hood's upbringing in the American South. He recalled to Uncut:

    "I'd already written 'Days of Graduation,' 'Dead, Drunk, And Naked' and a few others, and we knew the story was going to end with a plane crash. But we didn't have a middle part.

    Then, on September 13th 1998, George Wallace died. I was living out in the country in Athens, Georgia, in this huge white haunted house. Everytime you'd look at a TV set they were showing footage of Wallace standing on the school house steps, or fire hoses and police dogs and (segregationist) Bull Connor and all that f---ing bul---it. I was so pissed off from seeing all that again, I decided to write a song about him, told from the devil's point of view, as he seemed to be a big part of this story we were telling. I wrote Wallace in about 10 minutes and visualised it as the song that would close Act One of the album."
  • Other songs inspired by George Wallace include:

    "Family Snapshot" by Peter Gabriel (Inspired by Arthur Bremer's book An Assassins Diary, about his shooting of George Wallace)

    "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd (Includes the line about George Wallace "In Birmingham they love the governor, boo boo boo.")

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