Saturday Music: Ruby

I suppose I’ve heard this song throughout the course of my life, but it wasn’t until this past week that I really listened to the lyrics.  And I have to say, this is one of the more disturbing songs I’ve ever heard.  (Even more disturbing than the earring Kenny’s wearing in the video.)

The song is about a crippled war veteran whose girlfriend is about to leave.  It begins with the vet’s realization that his girl is headed somewhere…

You’ve painted up your lips and rolled and curled your tinted hair
Ruby are you contemplating going out somewhere?
The shadow on the wall tells me the sun is going down
Oh Ruby, don’t take your love to town

The next verse tells us how the soldier ended up in the condition he’s in…

It wasn’t me that started that old crazy Asian war
But I was proud to go and do my patriotic chore
Yes, it’s true that I’m not the man I used to be
Oh Ruby, I still need some company

And the third verse provides the conundrum…

It’s hard to love a man whose legs are bent and paralyzed
And the wants and the needs of a woman your age, Ruby, I realize
But it wont be long, I’ve heard them say until I’m not around
Oh Ruby, don’t take your love to town

The young, wounded soldier needs companionship, but so does the young woman and she’s headed away.  Despite the love and intimacy they once shared, and despite the service of this young man to his country, it’s not enough to save their relationship.  Life moves on and the young woman is determined to live it.  Even though some are saying he won’t be around very much longer, she can’t wait and steps out.

His passion and frustration spills over in the final verse

She’ leaving now ’cause I just heard the slamming of the door
The way I know I’e heard it slam a hundred times before
And if I could move, Id get my gun and put her in the ground
Oh Ruby, don’ take your love to town
Oh Ruby, for Gods sake turn around

Wow.  That’s chilling.

This wonderful song was written by none other than Mel Tillis.



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