Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)

The Hollies' Greatest HitsbyThe Hollies

Released in 2007 / 6 tracks, 3 mins 15 sec

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Pop/Rock

Official Music Videos

"Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)"

In the film industry, when you’re trying to set the tone for an old-school movie about drug-running, undercover federal operations or the seedy wild-west lawlessness of urban environments in the seventies, there’s only one song you reach for: The Hollies’ 1971 jammer “Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)” – Written at a time when sexual discovery was high & the war on drugs was just coming into being, the general vibe of Rock ‘N’ Roll music typically leaned towards images of rebelliousness & independence, every song seeming to portray the same wild & carefree attitude of a motorcycle drifter traveling the nation, knockin’ boots at every stop & partaking in the euphoria of illicit substances, truly the master of one’s own destiny. The Hollies capture this aesthetic with “Long Cool…,” delivering a fierce, constantly progressing Blues Rock tune fit for a free-roaming motorcycle protagonist, comprised of raunchy guitars that chug along with the same sound profile as a sputtering engine, overactive drums that beat with the expressiveness of an independent soul & in-your-face vocals that refuse to back down, the gritty tonality of Allan Clarke’s voice giving audiences that authentic Rock brashness they so desired; Put it all together & you’ve got a song that is a character in itself, a melodic representation of the Rock ‘N’ Roll spirit that wants nothing more than to do its own thing, embodying the will of frustrated Americans at the time.
Narratively, Clarke plays the role of a former FBI agent reminiscing on his days working undercover in prohibition-era New York, mingling with the wrong crowds & setting up a major sting operation at a hidden speakeasy. As he’s about to call in his DA reinforcements, a woman gets up on stage to sing, stopping him dead in his tracks as he stared at her longingly, lines like “my temperature started to rise” & “with just one look I was a bad mess” indicating he had fallen for her right there, hook-line-&-sinker, leaving him conflicted as to what he should do in this scenario. Suddenly, sirens are heard & the bar is thrown into a frenzy, patrons desperately clamoring to escape their apparent cage before a single gun-shot roared through the chaos, indicating the DA had already gotten the drop on them. Luckily, Clarke had the mindset to grab on to the singing woman’s wrist as he was being arrested, assuring her that if they stuck together he’d be able to grant her immunity, thus ending his career & beginning his new life with woman of his dreams – This sort of rough & tumblin’ tale feels so appropriate for the drifter aspect of “Long Cool…,” as it plays out like a story one would tell in the midst of an intense poker game among fellow undercover agents, reveling in the events of their glory years & shooting the shit, pleased in the notion that they lived an adventurous lifestyle full of danger & intrigue; With that in mind, it’s no wonder this tune is used so often in seventies-era movies action dramas.

camjameson
Written by @camjameson from Extraneous Routes

Lyrics

"Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)"

Saturday night I was downtown
Working for the FBI
Sittin' in a nest of bad men
Whiskey bottles piling high

Bootlegging boozer on the west side
Full of people who are doing wrong
Just about to call up the DA man
When I heard this woman sing a song

A pair of 45's made me open my eyes
My temperature started to rise
She was a long cool woman in a black dress
Just-a 5'9, beautiful, tall
With just one look I was a bad mess
'Cause that long cool woman had it all

[Instrumental Interlude]

I saw her heading to the table
Like a tall walking big black cat
When Charlie said I hope that you're able boy
'Cause I'm telling you she knows where it's at
Then suddenly we heard the sirens
And everybody started to run
A-jumping out of doors and tables
When I heard somebody shootin' a gun
Well the DA was pumping my left hand

And a-she was a-holding my right
Well I told her don't get scared
'Cause you're gonna be spared
I've gotta be forgivin' if I wanna spend my living
With a long cool woman in a black dress
Just a 5'9 beautiful tall
Yeah, with just one look I was a bad mess
'Cause that long cool woman had it all
Had it all
Had it all

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"Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)"

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"Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)"

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"Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)"

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