Song Lyric Sunday — Precious Gems

When I saw that Jim Adams has given us the precious gems theme for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, I decided to go with “Diamond Girl” by Seals & Crofts. But then I realized that I had already used that song back in my July 21, 2019 Song Lyric Sunday post. So I shifted gears from diamonds to rubies and went with the Kenny Rogers rendition of “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.”

“Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” was written by American country music singer and songwriter, Mel Tillis. It was originally recorded in 1967 by Tillis and then by Waylon Jennings, but was made famous in 1969 when released by Kenny Rogers and The First Edition. Rogers sang the lead and the song was a big hit for the group. It reached number six on the U.S Billboard Hot 100 and number 39 on the country chart.

The song tells the story of a wounded soldier who has returned home to a woman who shows him little sympathy, leaving him to go out at night and enjoy the company of other men. All he can do is beg her to stay home and keep him company, but his pleas fall on deaf ears.

Tillis said he based the song on a couple who lived near his family in Florida. In real life, the man was wounded in Germany in World War II and was sent to recuperate in England. There, he married a nurse who took care of him at the hospital. The two of them moved to Florida shortly afterward, but he made periodic return trips to the hospital as problems with his wounds kept flaring up. His wife saw another man as the veteran lay in the hospital.

For the song, Tillis changed the war in the song to the Korean War, and left out the real life ending, where the man killed his wife in a murder-suicide. In the song, the man says he would kill her if he could move to get his gun.

Because the Kenny Rogers and the First Edition song was released as the Vietnam War was raging, the song was often assumed to be about a man who came home crippled from that war. Some thought the song was disrespectful to veterans coming home from Vietnam, but Rogers insisted that it was about Korea and not Vietnam and it was a personal, not a political song.

Here are the lyrics to the song.

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

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

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

She’s leaving now ’cause I just heard the slamming of the door
The way I know I heard its slams one hundred times before
And if I could move, I’d get my gun and put her in the ground
Oh Ruby, don’t take your love to town

Oh Ruby, for God’s sake, turn around

19 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Precious Gems

  1. Christine Bolton April 12, 2020 / 6:03 am

    A wonderful song which I always loved. Thanks for sharing the backstory! PS. I think it’s ok to repeat a song as the categories are different 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Felicia Denise April 12, 2020 / 7:05 am

    Seals & Crofts was on my list too…and I also went with another song! 😄

    Nice share and commentary of a popular song this week. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  3. newepicauthor April 12, 2020 / 7:16 am

    That would have ruined this song if the man killed his wife in a murder-suicide, it is much better with that omitted.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Paula Light April 12, 2020 / 8:47 am

    I was gonna do MM’s “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” but changed to this song because Kenny just passed ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. msjadeli April 12, 2020 / 9:44 am

    I never knew the back story on the song. One of the finest songs ever written about the ravages that ripple from war. I don’t see how anyone could view this as a putdown to veterans.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Marleen April 12, 2020 / 11:40 am

    What a freakin’ tragic thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Marleen April 12, 2020 / 2:24 pm

    I’d never heard this before, but it’s what I
    found when looking for something else.

    Emerald Eyes

    Liked by 1 person

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