Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs: “Jeannie’s Afraid of the Dark” — Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton (1968)

Then she looked up at her daddy and me
And said somethin’ that broke both our hearts
She said, “When I die, please don’t bury me
‘Cause Jeannie’s afraid of the dark”…

What the freakin’ what…

Fear of the dark taps into the primal essence of terror, and if the billion-dollar-a-year nightlight industry doesn’t convince you otherwise, you might be a turnip. Or you might be a turnip who makes up statements without researching actual factual sources, but that’d be gauche in this day and era. Unless you happen to be our current President.

Nonetheless, we’re not quite sure why little Jeannie is afraid of the dark in the haunting tale of a near-similar name, Jeannie’s Afraid of the Dark, a 1968 duet by Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton. There’s some serious creep factor going on here, if you want to really delve between the lines. I’m not entirely sure I want to.

Dolly handles the choruses and verses, while Porter takes over the spoken word portion of the song. In the first verse we learn that Jeannie is always trying to sleep in her parents’ bedroom, because she’s terrified of darkness. In the second verse, during a cemetery visit and while laying flowers by family gravesites, she’s horrified at the thought of being buried underground, trapped eternally in the dark.

And in the third verse — the spoken word section — Jeannie dies. She has succumbed to the darkness of the grave… or has she?

There’s something really disturbing about her father admitting to himself and his wife that they never imagined Jeannie grown up at all, that she’d forever be a child, their only child, dying young.

Perhaps it was death that she was so afraid of
‘Cause it took her one dark stormy night
I think we always knew that we’d never see Jeannie grown
‘Cause it seemed she was destined to die…

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