August 9

Kenny Rogers’ “Coward of the County” is One of his Most Controversial Tracks


Kenny Rogers gave us another compelling story through a song just like his hit track “The Gambler.” This was a controversial song especially back then because of the gruesome content of it. It was also because of how they identified the three rapists in the song who are actually a popular trio who had something to say about the track.

kenny rogers, coward
via Screen grab from YouTube

Behind Kenny Rogers’ Coward of the County

The story behind the title is all about Tommy and his relationship with his father. His father ended up in prison and his last dying words for Tommy was to not get himself in any kind of trouble. When a dying father’s last words are a caution, one would think that you would do everything to follow it. This is what Tommy did as he never got into any kind of trouble. However, he was tested when the most unfortunate thing happened to Tommy.

In the song, his girlfriend was raped by three brothers named the Gatlin Boys. What he did after was everything that is against what his father asked of him. He confronted them in a bar and got his revenge. Tommy then realized that sometimes, you have to fight for what is right to be called a real man.

kenny rogers, coward
via Kenny Rogers’ official Twitter account

The Backlash

Joe Ely, a fellow country artist, felt like this Kenny Rogers’ track is a bit compromised. Back then, songs like these are frowned upon on because of its gruesome content. Traditional country music has a reputation for being wholesome and this is not what he heard from the song. He even said that he was sick knowing that “Coward of the County” made it into the Top 40 songs.

The Gatlin Boys also has some words to the songwriters of “Coward of the County.” After the song came out, they started to get accusations that they raped someone as the song suggested. Although it was just purely coincidental,  the Gatlin Brothers demanded an explanation from the writers.

Listen to this Kenny Rogers track here:

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controversy, coward of the couny, kenny rogers

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