1. Listen.

2. This song's lyrics only work so well because of the pounding, propulsive guitars and drums that support them. If this were a quiet song—with a fiddle, say—it wouldn't work nearly as well. (Unless you're 16 Horsepower... but then, if you're 16 Horsepower you're playing by your own rules.)

3. Here are some lyrics:

I’ve always been a religious man, I've always been a religious man,
but I met the banker and it felt like sin, he turned my bailout down.
The banker-man, he let into me, let into me, let into me.
The banker-man, he let into me, and spread my name around.

He thinks I ain’t got a lick of sense cause I talk slow and my money’s spent
Now, I ain’t the type to hold it against, but he better stay off my farm
'Cause it was my daddy’s and his daddy’s before
and his daddy’s before and his daddy’s before.
Five generations and an unlocked door and a loaded burglar alarm.

4. This song is from 2003, and it seemed a little brutal at the time: why kill a man just because he's the representative for a financial institution that you've legally run afoul of because your crops didn't come in right, etc. etc.? Yeah, it's a fucking, crying shame and the bank is behaving like a bastard, but it isn't that individual banker's fault.


House has stood through five tornadoes,
Droughts, floods, and five tornadoes.
I’d rather wrastle an alligator than to face the banker’s scorn.
'Cause he won’t even look me in the eye,
he just takes my land and apologize,
with pen, paper, and a friendly smile, he says the deed is done.

5. Well, now it's 2011 and after the Wall Street meltdown, we all know that banks are bullshit. They went crawling to the feds to keep their yachts and good reputations and got a bailout. But what about all those farmers who got foreclosed on and didn't lose their yachts—they lost their homes, their families, and in some cases their lives. And if that's the moral balance in the banking industry (if you're rich you get a bailout, if you're poor you're fucked), then only a god-damned snake would work for a bank. And if you're making your living by foreclosing on people who have every right (and probably more right) to a bailout than your bosses... well, then you're not just "doing your job." You're making a choice—an Adolf Eichmann, banality-of-evil choice—to make your cash off of a fundamentally immoral system. Maybe even an evil system, depending on how you feel about farming.

6. So the narrator of this song has killed a banker who specializes in foreclosures and says:

Like to invite him for some pot roast beef and mashed potatoes and sweet tea,
follow it up with some 'nana pudding and a walk around the farm.
Show him the view from McGee Town Hill
Let him stand in my shoes and see how it feels
to lose the last thing on earth that’s real.
I’d rather lose my legs and arms.

Bury his body in the old sink hole, bury his body in the old sink hole,
bury his body in the old sink hole under cold November sky.
Then damned if I wouldn’t go to church on Sunday,
Damned if I wouldn’t go to church on Sunday,
Damned if I wouldn’t go to church on Sunday and look the Preacher in the eye.

He clearly doesn't think that killing this banker is an immoral act—to him, it's a symbolically moral act. In a country like the US, where your work and your life are so wrapped up together, you cannot credibly say "I fundamentally disagree with what my employers do but I'm in no way culpable for it."

Now let's say you're destitute and you've got a family to feed—sure you'd go to work for monsters in the banking industry if they gave you a regular paycheck. But you'd better keep your ass clear of the foreclosure department and keep looking for work in a more decent industry.

Because both the narrator/murder and the banker are not-nice guys—but maybe the killer is the moral superior of his victim.


Either way, "Sink Hole" brings up the same moral question of "Long Summer Day" by Two Gallants, which is set during Jim Crow.

The final lyrics—and the way they're yowled—scratch at the inside of my ribs every time:

The summer day makes a white man lazy.
He sits on his porch just killing time.
But the summer day makes a nigger feel crazy.
Might make me do something out of line.

Well if you should see my wife tell her I won’t be home tonight, so don’t leave on the light.
I’ve got a little business down the road.
And if I’m dead by sunrise, kiss my baby girl for me.
It ain’t life if it ain’t free.
I’ve got a mighty burden to unload.