George Jones’ “White Lightning” is a classic country song that tells the story of a moonshine runner who makes and delivers illegal alcohol. The song, released in 1959, was written by J.P. Richardson, better known as The Big Bopper.
The lyrics of “White Lightning” describe the high-speed chase between the law enforcement officers and the moonshine runner, nicknamed “the mountain man.” The narrator describes the excitement and danger of the chase, with lines like “Well, the G-men, T-men, revenuers too / Searching for the place where he made his brew.”
The meaning of the song goes beyond just the thrill of the chase, however. The lyrics also offer a glimpse into the culture of moonshining, which was once a common practice in rural areas of the United States. Moonshining was often a way for people to make extra money during hard times, and it was seen as a way to stick it to the government that imposed high taxes on legal alcohol.
Jones’ delivery of the song is powerful and urgent, conveying the sense of danger and excitement that comes with running from the law. His voice is gritty and full of emotion, capturing the spirit of the moonshiners and their rebellious ways.
Despite the outlaw nature of the moonshining industry, “White Lightning” remains a beloved classic among country music fans. It speaks to a time when life was simpler and more rugged, and when people had to rely on their wits and cunning to get by.
In many ways, “White Lightning” serves as a time capsule of a bygone era in American history. The song captures the essence of a culture that was once widespread but is now largely forgotten, and it reminds us of the power of music to preserve our cultural heritage.