November 30

“When You Leave…You Can Never Go Back”

“When You Leave That Way You Can Never Go Back’s lyrics came from Steve Clark and Johnny MacRae. Several country musicians, as well as Sam Neely, Bill Anderson and the band Confederate Railroad covered the song.

As mentioned above, Sam Neely recorded the first charting version of “When You Leave That Way You Can Never Go Back”. He did this in 1983 for the MCA Records label. That year, his cover peaked at No. 77 on the Hot Country Singles chart.

Later in 1985, Bill Anderson recorded the song for his album Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. His version went to number 75 on the country music charts.

Lyrical Interpretation

To tell its story, it is a bittersweet reflection of a damned inmate’s life. Told in the first-person narrative, it begins with the man remembering some of his fondest childhood memories. He recalled his mother waking from the rooster’s crow and listening to Arthur Godfrey. On the other hand, his father and he had a twisted relationship. After they got into a fight one morning, the boy runs away and never returns home. This was the beginning of his troublesome life as a drifter.

Afterward, the man gets engaged to a young woman trying to settle down. Painstakingly, on the day of his wedding, he had cold feet—leaving her bride standing at the altar. Later on, he begins another relationship but with a woman who is married. When the real husband walks in on them, he shoots and kills him. Eventually, it leads to his death sentence. Just before the revelation of the latter of these events, he mournfully tells how he wishes he could repair his broken relationships. One of which is with his parents and the other with his young son.

Looking back at all the bridges he burned, the final bridge was one with a clergyman. When the clergyman comes into his prison cell to minister the last rites, the man tells him to go away. This was done shortly before his faced his sentence.

Confederate Railroad’s most recent studio album, Lucky to Be Alive, was issued on the D&B Masterworks label on July 15, 2016.


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