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Kenny Rogers – Coward of the County

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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, but folks just called him yellow
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 brother’s son
I still recall the final words my brother said to Tommy
“Son my life is over, but yours has just begun”

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

There’s someone for everyone, and Tommy’s love was Becky
In her arms he didn’t have to prove he was a man
One day while he was working, the Gatlin boys came calling
They took turns at Becky (there was three of them)

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


The Gatlin boys just laughed at him when he walked into the barroom
One of them got up and met him half way cross the floor
When Tommy turned around they said “Hey look old yellow’s leaving”
But you could’ve heard a pin drop when Tommy stopped and locked the door

Twenty years of crawling were bottled up inside him
He would hold nothing back — he let ’em have it all
When Tommy left the barroom, not a Gatlin boy was standing
He said, “This one’s 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 should hope you understand
Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man”

Everyone considered him the coward of the county


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