"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

And that's all she wrote ...

Ever wonder how that phrase came to mean "It's over!" ?
No? Never?!!!   Well, tough.  I'm gonna tell you anyway.

It's from a Hank Williams song of late 1950 or early 1951 (Dear John), and each verse ended with that phrase and a chorus of  'Dear John (I've sent your saddle home)'.

To me, that's the big mystery of the song. 'I've sent your saddle home' is perfectly clear English.  At 71, I just haven't been around long enough to understand its use here. I have searched and searched (and searched). In this matter, google is not your friend.  All I've ever been able to accomplish is to verify that those are the actual lyrics.  If any of you can answer, I'd love to hear from you.

As for "That's all she wrote" becoming synonymous with "It's over!", I think the verses make it pretty clear how.  Especially the last one. :-)

Dear John (I've sent your saddle home)
 Written by Aubry Gass and Tex Ritter
 Recorded by Hank Williams  12/21/1950

Well when I woke up this mornin'
There was a note upon my door
Said, 'Don't make me no coffee, babe
 'Cause I won't be back no more'
And that's all she wrote
'Dear John (I've sent your saddle home)'

Now Jonah got along in the belly of the whale
Daniel in the lions' den
But I know a guy that didn't try to get along
 And he won't get a chance again
And that's all she wrote
'Dear John (I've fetched your saddle home)'

Now she didn't forward no address
Nor she didn't say goodbye
All she said was if you get blue
 Just hang your little head and cry
An' that's all she wrote
'Dear John (I've sent your saddle home)'

Now my gal's short and stubby
She's strong as she can be
But if that little old gal of mine
 Ever gets a hold of me
That's all she wrote
'Dear John (I've sent your saddle home)'

Now Jonah got along in the belly of the whale
Daniel in the lions den
But I know a man that didn't try to get along
 And he won't get a chance again
And that's all she wrote
'Dear John (I've fetched your saddle home)'

Now I went down to the bank this morning
The cashier said with a grin
"I feel so sorry for you Hank
 But your wife has done been in"
And that's all she wrote
'Dear John (I've sent your saddle home)'

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8 comments:

Gary said...

What an utterly diabolical post!!!!...couple of hours on the 'puter and part of a bottle of Jack Daniels and all the Hell I know is that I want to know the meaning and significance of sending ones saddle home!!!!!....come to think of it, the phrase just might have originated in a bottle of Jack in the first place! AAARRGGH!

Paul Gordon said...

Or, maybe rye whiskey. Note Tex Ritter's name among the writers. :-)
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Millyb said...

Hey Paul - interesting column. I didn't even know the saying came from a song. Bryan thinks maybe it refers to an old saying that when a cowboy died the thing he had of the most value was his saddle (and not his horse) or something along those lines... hey are you anywhere near the airport? I'm hanging out at the airport in Houston this week for work. We're doing a proof-of-concept here.

Foxfier said...

I called up my favorite cowboy expert (mom-- 40 years and counting experience, plus time teaching the kids of ranchers) and when she finished laughing, she explained that you keep your saddle where you sleep-- so sending his saddle home was kind of like taking away the spare keys these days, or saying his boots won't be under that bed anymore.

Paul Gordon said...

Beautiful, Foxfier.

You've accomplished something that apparently was beyond the capabilities of google, and most likely nailed it.

Thank you. :-)

Foxfier said...

If needed, I can also explain why she's a rancher, why "cowboy" would get you slugged and how come you don't untangle another rider's horse's tail.....

Paul Gordon said...

Oh-Kay Foxfier.

I'm cool with that, and always eager for more education.

BUT, what you are describing sounds like a very good post for you to write on your blog and for me to provide a link to.

I mean, you'll already be doing most of the work, so your blog should be the one to shine. :-)
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Foxfier said...

*scowl* These days I'm having trouble finding time to write my Catholic Stand articles, and they're just "300-1k words."

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