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Coward of the County Lyrics

Enjoy This Video of Coward of the County Lyrics by Kenny Rogers

Lyrics are Below the Video – Sing along if you like, or just enjoy

Coward of the County Lyrics Sung by Kenny Rogers

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, the folks just called him “yellow”,
But 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 brothers son.
I still recall the final words my brother said to Tommy:
Son, my life is over, but yours is just begun.

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

There’s someone for everyone and Tommys love was Becky.
In her arms he didn’t have to prove he was a man.
One day while he was workin’ the Gatlin boys came callin’
They took turns at Becky…. there was three of them!

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

Promise me, son, not to do the things I’ve done.
Walk away from trouble if you can.
It won’t mean youre weak if you turn the other cheek.
I hope youre 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 bar room.
One of them got up and met him halfway cross the floor
When tommy turned around they said, hey look! ol yellows leavin’
But you could’a heard a pin drop when Tommy stopped and locked the door.

Twenty years of crawlin’ was bottled up inside him.
He wasnt holdin’ nothin’ back; he let ’em have it all.
When Tommy left the bar room not a Gatlin boy was standin’
He said, “this ones 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 youre a man.

Everyone considered him the coward of the county.

Some Facts About Coward of the County Lyrics and Music

Coward of the County” is the title of a song written by Roger Bowling and Billy Ed Wheeler, and recorded by American country music artist Kenny Rogers. It was released in November 1979 as the second single from the album Kenny. The song is about a man’s nephew who is a reputed coward, but finally takes a stand for his lover. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and number one on the UK pop chart. It was the most recent traditional country music song to hit number one in the UK, in February 1980.

“Everyone considered him the coward of the county”, so the song’s signature opening (and closing) line goes.

The song tells the story of a young man named Tommy, who earns a notorious reputation as the “coward of the county” (and is nicknamed “Yellow”) since he never stood up for himself one single time to prove the county wrong.

Tommy’s non-confrontational attitude, though, was likely influenced, at age 10, by his final visit with his imprisoned father, shortly before he dies there (accompanied by the narrating character, to whom Tommy was his brother’s son). In his final words to Tommy, his father tells him that to “turn the other cheek” isn’t altogether a sign of weakness, and implores him to promise “not to do the things I’ve done; walk away from trouble if you can” (implying that not “turning the other cheek” may have landed Tommy’s father in prison).

Despite his cowardly reputation, Tommy falls in love with Becky, who loves Tommy for who he is without having to prove he was a man. One day, while Tommy was working, the three Gatlin brothers (the villains of the ballad) came to Becky’s house, attacked and “took turns at Becky”. Tommy returns home and finds Becky crying and her dress torn. Reaching above the fireplace and taking down his daddy’s picture, he faces the dilemma of choosing between upholding his father’s plea of “walking away from trouble,” or achieving justice for Becky’s rape.

Tommy chooses to visit the bar where the Gatlin boys are. Amid laughter upon Tommy’s entrance, and after “one of them got up and met him halfway ‘cross the floor”, Tommy turns around, this time not to walk away like a coward, but to lock the door behind him (“you coulda heard a pin drop when Tommy stopped and locked the door”) and trap the Gatlin boys inside with him. Fueled by “twenty years of crawlin'” that “was bottled up inside him”, Tommy engages in a relentless barroom brawl that leaves all three Gatlin boys unconscious (possibly dead) on the barroom floor.

Tommy then reflects on his dead father’s plea, addressing him respectfully that while he did his best to avoid trouble, he hopes he understands that “sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man.”

The movie

The song inspired a 1981 television movie of the same name, directed by Dick Lowry, who also directed all but the last of *The Gambler* television movie saga pentalogy. Set in Georgia during World War II the film’s plot stayed true to the song and starred Rogers as Tommy’s uncle Matthew Spencer (the singer of the song), Fredric Lehne as the troubled Tommy Spencer, Largo Woodruff as Becky, and William Schreiner as Jimmy Joe Gatlin. The movie added several characters not mentioned in the song, including: Car-Wash (Noble Willingham), a friend of the Spencer family, Violet (Ana Alicia), a local girl who also loved Tommy, and Lem Gatlin (Joe Dorsey), father of the Gatlin boys (brothers Jimmy Joe, Paul, and Luke).

Controversy over the Gatlins

It has been claimed—and of course, listeners undoubedly initially thought—that the “Gatlin boys” in the song was a reference to The Gatlin Brothers. However, in The Billboard Book of Number One Country Singles, Rogers stated that he did not realize the connection, and that had he done so, he would have asked for the name to have been changed. Larry Gatlin also gave the song a positive review (“It’s a good song”). Billy Edd Wheeler denied that the lyric was a reference to the Gatlin Brothers.

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