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A Song with a tale

It was thanks to Sarang that I got introduced to Kenny Rogers. The late 80s saw me move to Pune and trying to set up a practice. I explored the singer a lot more and loved his style.

This is the song that sounds so nice in a singalong way, till you hear the lyrics. Certainly one of Kenny Rogers’ most famous songs..

The lyrics by Mel Tillis are very famous

You’ve painted up your lips
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

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 the needs of a woman your age
Ruby, I realized
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’ve heard it slam 100 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

Songwriters: Mel Tillis

When I first heard the song I thought it was about a VietNam veteran who returns home, paralysed and unable to give what Ruby wants. That would be the impression that the lines “Crazy Asian War” and the part “Ruby, Don’t take your love to town” would indicate . Turns out it isn’t about the late 60s at all. Mel Tillis has himself gone on record about the story behind the song.

“Ruby is a real life narrative about a soldier coming home from World War II in 1947 to Palm Beach County, Florida,” says Tillis, who is himself a Florida native. “The soldier brought along with him a pretty little English woman he called ‘Ruby,’ his war bride from England, one of the nurses that helped to bring him around to somewhat of a life. He had recurring problems from war wounds and was confined mostly to a wheelchair. He’d get drunk and accuse Ruby of everything under the sun. Having stood as much as she could, Ruby and the soldier eventually divorced, and she moved on.”

I was intrigued by the reference to the Asian War, although I understood the rest. The song has been extensively covered by many artists and bands, including Tillis himself. As is often the case the songwriter had really nothing to do with Rogers recording the song with his band “The First Edition” . The band had been formed and fused Rock and Roll, R&B, Folk and Country. After their first chart toppers that included “I just dropped in (to see what condition my condition was in” the group changed their name to Kenny Rogers and the First Edition and relaunched with this top 10 hit: “Ruby, Don’t take your love to town”

The story of the megahit chart topper is somewhat amusing. The band was in Los Angeles recording their “Something’s Burning” album. . The group was told they had 15 minutes left on the clock for the studio time. The Producer Jimmy Bowen came out of the control room and handed the lyrics of ‘Ruby’ to Kenny. And the rest is an unbelievable part of history. They were pretty much done and dusted with the composition and singing as well as the recording in 15 minutes flat. This song is just as relevant today as it’s ever been and actually globally, as soldiers continue to return home from war zones with debilitating injuries that destroy their bodies and their relationships.

Have a great day ahead, folks as the largest vaccination drive gathers pace. Take the jab. The alternative of romancing a Chinese Export isn’t that good

By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

4 replies on “A Song with a tale”

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