No one would like to be left alone. Everybody wants their lovers to be with them especially if they’re on a downfall. As for this song, the man doesn’t like his “Ruby” to take her love to town. Despite the man’s begging, she did, yes, “Ruby” did.

Let’s take “Ruby” as someone in your life who fell out of love. I believe we all experience this crazy thing about love, about affection. And “don’t take your love to town,” merely an experience or an understanding of somebody searching for someone, for someone’s love. This is just what the song’s portraying.

This is one of Kenny Rogers most successful songs. In fact, he placed “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town” on top, wiping out other country songs. This song even stirred controversy and debate among country music enthusiasts. It only means, the song’s success and perhaps the meaning has pierced the audience.

The Song…

Mel Tillis is the songwriter behind the song. He based the song on a couple who lived near his family in Florida. In real life, the man was wounded in Germany during World War II and 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 had 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.

Furthermore, this was originally recorded by Johnny Darrell in 1967. Also, it was also recorded by Waylon Jennings and Roger Miller. But the most successful of them all as I mentioned above was Rogers’.

The Meaning…

The song is about a paralyzed veteran of an “Asian war.” At the time of its release, it was widely assumed, but never explicitly stated, to be the Vietnam War. The man either lies helplessly in bed or sits helplessly in his wheelchair as his wife getting ready to go out for the evening without him. Additionally, the man believes she is going in search of a lover. Then he hears the door slam behind her, he pleads for her to reconsider, but she did go.

The Lyrics…

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

The Controversy…

Bunch of controversies surrounded this song when it became a hit for Kenny Rogers in 1969, as the Vietnam War was raging and the song was often assumed to be about a man who came home crippled from that war. Rogers would perform the song in a breezy manner, and the crowd would often clap and sing along. To some, it was seen as disrespectful to veterans.

In a 1970 interview with Beat Instrumental, Rogers defended the song, saying:

“Look, we don’t see ourselves as politicians, even if a lot of pop groups think they are in the running for a Presidential nomination. We are there, primarily, to entertain. Now if we can entertain by providing thought-provoking songs, then that’s all to the good. But the guys who said ‘Ruby’ was about Vietnam were way off target – it was about Korea. But whatever the message, and however you interpret it, the fact is that we wouldn’t have looked at it if it hadn’t been a GOOD song. Just wanna make good records, that’s all.”

The Other Covers…

The song has been recorded many times by various artists. The Statler Brothers covered it on their 1967 album “Big Country Hits.” Other artists who have recorded versions include Bobby Bare, Dale Hawkins, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Jerry Reed, Roger Miller, Cake, The Killers, and Leonard Nimoy.

Click the names for it will prompt you for their music videos.

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Watch Out for “All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers’ Farewell Concert Celebration”

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