Goodbye Earl

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"Goodbye Earl"
Single by Dixie Chicks
from the album Fly
B-side "Stand by Your Man"
Released February 29, 2000
Format CD single
Genre Country
Length 4:20
Label Monument
Writer(s) Dennis Linde
Producer(s) Blake Chancey, Paul Worley
Dixie Chicks singles chronology
"Cowboy Take Me Away"
"Goodbye Earl"
"Cold Day in July"
Music video
"Goodbye Earl" at

"Goodbye Earl", written by Dennis Linde, is a country music song. Initially recorded by the band Sons of the Desert for an unreleased album in the late 1990s, the song gained fame when it was recorded by the Dixie Chicks on their fifth studio album, Fly. After charting from unsolicited airplay in late 1999, the song was released as that album's third single in 2000, peaking at #13 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) charts. The CD single includes an ironic 'B-Side' cover of "Stand By Your Man" by Tammy Wynette.


Linde had written several songs that included a character by the name of "Earl," most notably, "The Queen Of My Double Wide Trailer" by Sammy Kershaw (wherein Earl is the "other man" of the narrative, described as a man who rebuilds engines and is "the Charlie Daniels of the torque wrench"). This song was (in part) an effort to kill off the "Earl" character that had been used in past songs.

Song information[edit]

The song uses black comedy to tell the story of two best friends from high school, and what became of them after graduation. Mary Ann leaves the town where they were raised, while Wanda settles on marrying a man named "Earl," who physically abuses her repeatedly. Wanda files for divorce based on the domestic violence, but "Earl walked right through that restraining order and put her in intensive care." Mary Ann flies in from Atlanta, Georgia, and after a discussion, the women decide "that Earl had to die," and they kill him, by poisoning or drugging his black-eyed peas. The song plot has been described as a cross between the films Fried Green Tomatoes and Thelma and Louise.[1]

Chart performance[edit]

"Goodbye Earl" reached a peak position of number 13 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, a spot somewhat short of the Chicks' usual placings at the time. It also made the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at number 19, and would become the trio's highest charting song among pop listings until "Long Time Gone" in the summer of 2002. Regardless of rankings, the song has become one of the Chicks' most well-known tunes. It is an enthusiastically-received staple of all their concert tours.

Chart (2000) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[2] 5
US Billboard Hot 100[3] 19
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[4] 13

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song was produced by Keeley Gould and directed by Evan Bernard, who also played the role of Ezekiel Kincaid, Wanda's divorce lawyer. It begins with some photographs of Wanda and Mary Ann in high school, and their parting. The next scene shows Wanda wearing a wedding dress in Earl's car after their marriage. As Wanda is increasingly abused by Earl, she dons dark glasses and long sleeve blouses, as conveyed in the song's lyrics, to conceal her injuries. Finally, she hires an attorney for divorce, but Earl appears, abusing Wanda for the last time. Mary Ann hears of Wanda's admission to the Intensive Care Unit, and the two hatch the plan to kill Earl. They poison his black-eyed peas and Earl dies. A few days later, the police arrive, seeking Earl but are unable to find him. After the seasons change, the two women are shown as business partners of a roadside stand, selling "Tennessee ham and strawberry jam." As they dispose of Earl's body, the whole town, including a zombie Earl, celebrates his death by dancing in a style that is at times reminiscent of Michael Jackson's video for "Thriller".[5]

The video's cast included:

The music video won both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association Video of the Year Awards in 2000. The video was subsequently placed at #6 on CMT's 2004 ranking of the 100 Greatest Music Videos,[6] and #7 on their 2008 revision of the rankings.[7]

Other versions and parodies[edit]

The song was originally recorded by the country music band Sons of the Desert but not put onto an album, because of a dispute with the band's label. Sons of the Desert had initially planned to record it on their second album for Epic Records, but the Dixie Chicks had claimed the song as their own. The resulting dispute over the song led to Sons of the Desert's exiting Epic in 1998.[8]

Punk cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes also performed a cover of the song.

Country music parodist Cledus T. Judd recorded a parody, titled "Goodbye Squirrel", about two hunters and their unsuccessful attempts to kill a squirrel.


  1. ^ Tucker, Ken (September 21, 1999). "No Shrinking Violence". But you gotta love their Thelma and Louise-style taste for revenge, says Ken Tucker. Entertainment Weekly. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  2. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 9826." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. May 1, 2000. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  3. ^ "Dixie Chicks – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Dixie Chicks.
  4. ^ "Dixie Chicks – Chart history" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Dixie Chicks.
  5. ^ Hunter, Sandy (February 1, 2001). "Evan Bernard Testifies". 'Boards Magazine. p. 2. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  6. ^ "100 Greatest Music Videos". CMT. 2004. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  7. ^ Bierly, Mandi (April 7, 2008). "Johnny Cash's 'Hurt' still the greatest country video". Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  8. ^ "Sons of the Desert don't mind getting a little 'SOD'dy". 2000. Retrieved 2007-07-15. 

External links[edit]