Coward Of The County

Album: Kenny (1979)
Charted: 1 3
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  • Everyone considered him the coward of the county
    He'd never stood one single time to prove the county wrong
    His mama named him Tommy, but folks just called him yellow
    Something always told me they were reading Tommy wrong

    He was only ten years old when his daddy died in prison
    I looked after Tommy, 'cause he was my brother's son
    I still recall the final words my brother said to Tommy
    "Son, my life is over, but yours has just begun"

    "Promise me, son, not to do the things I've done
    Walk away from trouble if you can
    It won't mean you're weak if you turn the other cheek
    I hope you're old enough to understand
    Son, you don't have to fight to be a man"

    There's someone for everyone, and Tommy's love was Becky
    In her arms, he didn't have to prove he was a man
    One day while he was working, the Gatlin boys came calling
    They took turns at Becky, n'there was three of them

    Tommy opened up the door, and saw his Becky crying
    The torn dress, the shattered look was more than he could stand
    He reached above the fireplace, and took down his daddy's picture
    As the tears fell on his daddy's face, he heard these words again

    "Promise me, son, not to do the things I've done
    Walk away from trouble if you can
    Now, it won't mean you're weak if you turn the other cheek
    I hope you're old enough to understand
    Son, you don't have to fight to be a man"

    The Gatlin boys just laughed at him when he walked into the barroom
    One of them got up and met him halfway 'cross the floor
    When Tommy turned around they said, "hey look, old yeller's leaving"
    But you could've heard a pin drop when Tommy stopped and locked the door

    Twenty years of crawling was bottled up inside him
    He wasn't holding nothin' back, he let 'em have it all
    When Tommy left the barroom, not a Gatlin boy was standing
    He said, "this one's for Becky, as he watched the last one fall

    (And I heard him say) "I promised you, Dad, not to do the things you've done
    I walk away from trouble when I can
    Now please don't think I'm weak, I didn't turn the other cheek
    And papa, I sure hope you understand
    Sometimes you gotta fight when you're a man"

    Everyone considered him the coward of the county Writer/s: Roger Dale Bowling, Billy Edd Wheeler
    Publisher: Warner Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 3

  • Kelly from Kigali Tommy's father was serving life imprisonment without parole. There's possibility that Tommy himself also fell in the fate as his father after a fight with the Gatlin Boys.
    We tried to analyse the song here: https://youtu.be/gD0VpDCsvok
  • Dios Moagi from Tzaneen, South AfricaBack in 2003 a friend of mine SK wrote a fiction based on this song. I loved the story and how well he put it for one to fully understand the emotions of the songwriter. When you are too kind, people often mistaken your kindness for weakness, and you end up saying enough is enough.
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaPoor Gatlin Brothers. I kind of understand Tommy. Sometimes it is harder, as the bible says, to turn the other cheek.
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