The jig is up. Toadies lead singer - and the very guy who wrote this song - says it’s not about vampires. So put the fangs and capes on the ground and back away slowly.
Before you go dancing your end-zone boogaloo, the very same guy - and remember, he wrote the song - also says it’s not about a real-life murder. Nor even a rapist. The nerve! Provoking such controversy amongst their listeners and then offering nothing solid to back it up!!
But controversy can be a good thing. Remember Madonna’s “Like A Prayer”? Without its cross-burning video, you might not. The religious sect raised such a stink about that video there’s no way it would go softly out of the world’s collective memory. And while the Toadies were never on a level with Madonna fame-wise, the words that have been exchanged by their fans over the inspiration for this song are weighty enough to sink a barge.
So listen up. We’re about to give you the real lowdown.
We begin with the fact that Possum Kingdom is - yes - a real place. It’s a man-made lake on the Brazos River about 75 miles west of Forth Worth in Texas. One story has salesman Ike Sablosky moving to nearby Mineral Wells in 1906 to try and get healthy. While there, he couldn’t help but notice the demand for possum fur (possum fur?!?) and he wanted to get some of the action. He connected with some suppliers from Northwest Palo Pinto County who he affectionately began calling “the boys from Possum Kingdom.” And a kingdom it became; Ike struck it rich with his fur trade, becoming a millionaire before retiring to Dallas.
The name stuck, and the area became known widely as the Possum Kingdom. The lake and dam there cover around 18,000 acres of land, providing amazing fishing, camping, and swimming amenities for anyone so inclined.
However - and this is the important part - there is no record of any vampires using this place as a feeding ground. Nor - and this is the second important part - is there any record of anyone being killed by a deranged murderer, or even one who’s non-deranged. And - bonus! - there’s no record, even, of anyone having been raped in the area.
Armed with this information, we are confident that Toadies front man Todd Lewis - who wrote this song - was truthful when revealing to RIP magazine in 1995 that “it’s just a story I heard long ago; just a really cool, eerie lake and some stuff I heard and some stuff I just make up. I tend to do that. They dammed up this big river up there and it’s got all these spooky names like Hell’s Gate. It’s really cool.”
Now, we all know about stories told around campfires, made scarier the more detail is thrown in, and they are designed to make little kids go diving for their sleeping bags head-first to try and disappear. These, children, are Boogey Man stories. And once you hit the age of 12 or thereabouts, you begin to realize that Uncle Bill was only trying to scare you, that your brother was just a really good actor making all the appropriate scary noises. And then it’ll hit you: Those bastards. They made you pee your pants for no reason. And you just don’t speak to them anymore for the rest of your life. But I digress.
Offering up something to those who still choose to believe it’s based on a true life story, Lewis added, “I was down there (in Texas) for Thanksgiving, and after the family got through talking about who died and who's got cancer and all those things that families talk about, they started talking about this guy who was peeping in windows and started breaking into people's houses. He'd go out of his way to be seen, and everyone is like armed to the teeth, and he's like tapping on windows. The whole family was freaked out about it." So if you really must believe in the reality of the words in the song, here’s a tenuous thread.
Aside from the controversy, the 1995 album containing this song, Rubberneck, only reached 56 on the Billboard chart, even though the song made it into the top 10. You'd think with all the things being said back and forth, the fans would have notched this one up a bit higher.
Regardless, there are those who will remain passionate about their belief in what they perceive from someone else’s words. It happens all the time in Hollywood (right?). So far be it for us to dissuade you from your morbid thoughts. Go ahead and feel free to tell whatever creepy stories you’d like around the campfire. Just stay away from Possum Kingdom Lake and maybe the Boogey Man will leave you alone. For now. ~ Shawna Hansen Ortega
Toadies had the briefest possible stay on the US Top 40, nicking the chart at #40 with this song the week of November 18, 1995. The song made it thanks to airplay, which Billboard factored into the charts starting in 1991.
Toadies, and this song in particular, benefited from the boom in the "Modern Rock" or "Alternative" radio formats, which gave a good home to acts like Belly, Letters To Cleo and Blind Melon. Toadies toured with Bush for nearly a year to promote the Rubberneck album, which was their first major label release (Interscope/Atlantic). They made a second album, called Feeler, but it was rejected by the record company. Bass player Lisa Umbarger left the group, and they broke up soon after, orphaning their mid-'90s success. Toadies came back together in the '00s and released the album No Deliverance in 2008, which they followed with a new version of the previously shelved Feeler in 2010.
Album : Rubberneck Released : 1994 US chart position : 40