Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” Lyrics Analysis: Was It Murder?

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Posted by on 04/24/2013 at 3:24 PM Lyrics, News

The Popdust Files: carrie underwood

Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” recently went double-platinum, and with good reason: It’s one of the country superstar’s finest story-songs, a gripping tale of a young woman who kills her abusive father by locking him out of a tornado shelter during storm season. But one thing’s bothered us in the months since we first heard the song: Legally, is Underwood* guilty of murder in the song? Let’s break down its lyrics, to see!

First, we’ll start with the crime itself, which Underwood describes in the song’s second verse:

She heard those sirens screaming out
Her daddy laid there passed out on the couch
She locked herself in the cellar
Listened to the screaming of the wind

Whatever legal interpretation we settle on, this much is not in doubt: Underwood heard tornado sirens and went down to the storm shelter, passing her father asleep on the couch. She neglected to wake her father, and instead proceeded into the shelter, locking it behind her. Additionally, it’s clear this was not a mental lapse. Underwood was fully conscious of the harmful effect her actions would have on her father:

Some people call it taking shelter
She called it sweet revenge

Now let’s look at the legal definitions. The song’s chorus implies the whole thing takes place in Underwood’s home state of Oklahoma, so we’ll be using the terms in effect in that jurisdiction. Here’s how the Sooner State defines murder:

The Death of a Human. Homicide is defined in section 691 of Title 21 as “the killing of one human being by another.” An unborn fetus that is viable at the time of injury is a “human being” and therefore may be the subject of a homicide. Hughes v. State, 868 P.2d 730, 731 (Okl. Cr. 1994).

Ah, you say, but Underwood didn’t actually kill her father. The tornado did! This is true. But Carrie did set in motion the events that led to his death. Could that mean she was guilty of manslaughter in the second degree?

Manslaughter in the 2nd Degree:

Every killing of one human being by the act, procurement or culpable negligence of another, which, under the provisions of this chapter, is not murder, nor manslaughter in the first degree nor excusable nor justifiable homicide, is manslaughter in the second degree.

The question is, does Underwood’s failure to wake her father constitute “culpable negligence”? According to the law, it does not!

In most cases, there is no duty to rescue in the United States. There are exceptions, though: Parents (and anyone acting in loco parentis such as a teacher or a babysitter) have to save any children in their care. Hosts have to save anyone they’ve invited into their house. Bosses have to rescue their employees. As long as Carrie’s father owns the house, and she’s not his legal guardian, she’s in the clear.

And what about the Good Samaritan laws that caused so much trouble in the Seinfeld finale? One final piece of luck—Oklahoma doesn’t have those. Congratulations, Carrie: You’ve got your sweet revenge, and there’s not a court in the land who can touch you.

*Yes, “Blown Away” is written in the third person, but Underwood plays the main character in the video, so in the interests of concision we’ll call the song‘s unnamed protagonist “Carrie Underwood.”

The full lyrics are below. You can listen to the song at the bottom of the post!

Dry lightning cracks across the skies
Those storm clouds gather in her eyes
Her daddy was a mean old mister
Mama was an angel in the ground
The weather man called for a twister
She prayed blow it down

There’s not enough rain in Oklahoma
To wash the sins out of that house
There’s not enough wind in Oklahoma
To rip the nails out of the past

Shatter every window ’til it’s all blown away,
Every brick, every board, every slamming door blown away
‘Til there’s nothing left standing, nothing left of yesterday
Every tear-soaked whiskey memory blown away,
Blown away

She heard those sirens screaming out
Her daddy laid there passed out on the couch
She locked herself in the cellar
Listened to the screaming of the wind
Some people call it taking shelter
She called it sweet revenge

Shatter every window ’til it’s all blown away,
Every brick, every board, every slamming door blown away
‘Til there’s nothing left standing, nothing left of yesterday
Every tear-soaked whiskey memory blown away,
Blown away

There’s not enough rain in Oklahoma
To wash the sins out of that house
There’s not enough wind in Oklahoma
To rip the nails out of the past

Shatter every window ’til it’s all blown away (blown away)
Every brick, every board, every slamming door blown away (blown away)
‘Til there’s nothing left standing, nothing left of yesterday (blown away)
Every tear-soaked whiskey memory blown away,

Blown away, blown away, blown away, blown away, blown away

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