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“In State”

Posted by purplemary54 on August 10, 2012

A couple of days ago I wrote about the sympathetic criminal of “I Fought the Law.”  He didn’t seem like such a bad guy, just a troubled kid who didn’t think things through very well.  You felt kind of bad for him because he missed his girl so much.  At least that’s how I characterized him.  But what if there were a darker story behind the song.  What if Bobby Fuller’s criminal wasn’t a confused, lonely kid?  What if he really was a bad guy?  And what about that girl he missed so much?  There’s at least two sides to every story.  Bobby Fuller told one side.  Kathleen Edwards tells the other.

“In State” was recorded some forty years after “I Fought the Law,” so it can’t reasonably be seen as having any actual relationship to The Bobby Fuller Four classic.  But the single from Kathleen Edwards’ second album, Back to Me, provides an interesting counterpoint to the original 1966 tune.  Back in 1966, mainstream culture didn’t give as much agency to women’s voices as it does now.  If a song like this had been recorded back then, it probably would’ve centered on a loyal, but lonely girl pining away for her boyfriend in jail (he’s not bad, just misunderstood).  It’s hard to imagine any Kathleen Edwards character pining away for anyone.  This girl certainly won’t.

This is an angry woman.  She knows her boyfriend is bad news, knows that maybe he really doesn’t love her.  And she’s tired of living a fugitive’s life, tired of walking on eggshells, tired of being afraid.  He’s not gonna quit, “the last job you pulled was never big enough.”  His empty promises don’t ring true anymore, and she’s finally going to do something about it.  “Cause I know where the cops hang out.  I know where you’ll be found.  I know what you’re all about.  I know when you’re going down.”  She’s going to turn him in and get while the gettin’s good.  The story of this criminal’s girlfriend is one of freedom and empowerment.  And escape.  Because for all the other things she knows, she knows a couple more that are most important:  “I know my love was good enough.  I know you would have shed my blood.  I know you can’t shut me up.”



2 Responses to ““In State””

  1. alundeberg said

    Reminds me of Anna Sage– Dillinger’s girlfriend who helped the police nab him.

    • Did not know about that. I know he was caught at a movie theater with a woman, who I’m assuming wasn’t his girlfriend.

      Kathleen Edwards is just such a cool singer-songwriter, although I wasn’t tickled with her newest album. Too much Bon Ivor influence (he’s her boyfriend).

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