The Performance of “Amos Moses”
The impeccable story-telling of Jerry Reed.
I’ve always had a passion for story-based songs. When I was a kid, anything that told a story was much more likely to hold my attention than anything that didn’t. As important as a good story in and of itself is; it’s nothing without a good story-teller, and there was none better than Jerry Reed.
In a story-rich environment such as country music, it’s very hard to stand out — Jerry Reed stood out.
I don’t remember exactly where I was when I first heard “Amos Moses” by Jerry Reed for the first time. All I know is as soon as I heard it; I was hooked.
That opening riff instantly grabs your attention. Immediately after that, Reed comes in with his signature; “Yea-uh.” All while he hits some of grooviest licks you’ll ever hear on his guitar. “Here comes Amos!” He shouts in his thick southern accent.
If that beginning doesn’t hook you, the ad-libs and general craziness of Reed’s delivery of this song will. Every single line is delivered with such a burst of energy. It feels like listening to your granddad spin the biggest, most made-up yarn you’ve ever heard — but it keeps your full attention. He pauses between lines to let out a laugh, and he borderline yells half the lyrics.
It grabbed, and held my attention as a kid, and it still does to this day. I can’t help but pause, stop what I’m doing, and give it my full attention whenever it comes on.
The story of “Amos Moses” follows the life of the swamp-dweller the song gets its name from.
“About 45 minutes southeast of Thibodaux, Louisiana, lived a man called Doc Milsap and his pretty wife Hannah.
Well they raised up a son that could eat up his weight in groceries.
Named him after a man of the cloth, called him Amos Moses.”
The chorus is just a brief summary of this fictional character’s upbringing. I don’t want to divulge the whole song because I wish I could go back and hear it again for the first time, so I don’t want to deprive anyone else of that experience.
Another reason is simply the fact that typing out the story doesn’t hold a candle to Reed’s emphatic way of telling the stories of Amos Moses.
The instrumental is absolutely stellar as well, which is no surprise; it was produced by the legendary Chet Atkins.
That catchy opening riff repeats occasionally, and is followed by a seemingly rock-inspired strumming from Reed and his all-time great guitar prowess.
The bass-line in this tune is right up to par with the lead guitar as well. It’s one of the best bass performances I’ve ever heard in country; as most of the time it’s used as nothing more than a pace-keeper.
The percussion is multidimensional as well. The full drum set is utilized perfectly, and I think there’s even a cowbell thrown in there.
Jerry Reed was really like no other. He always seemed like he enjoyed what he did, and was never afraid to be his charmingly southern self. Even on the big talk shows — he never acted differently. He was always cracking jokes, laughing, and just having a good time.
You could tell Reed loved music by the way he admired the artists he shared the stage with at times.
There is no better example of all these traits than the medley he did with Marty Robbins.
This was kind of a short one, but I wanted to share my passion for “Amos Moses” and hopefully expose it to someone who’s never had the pleasure of hearing it before. It just oozes fun.
I could go on for ages about why Jerry Reed was one of a kind, but I’ll save it for a full-length, more in-depth article in the future.
Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear if anyone else here is a big Jerry Reed fan!