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Country Classics: Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town

I guess there are a few Kenny Rogers songs more popular than this one, but that makes no sense to me. At all. This is one of the greatest songs ever written and I’ll fiercely thumb-wrestle anyone who argues with me.

No matter how many times I’ve heard it I am recaptured every single time. It displays, in spades, my very favorite thing about country music: its ability to tell a story. And what a story it is. The song is so exquisitely written it does another thing I really like: it raises questions. So many questions.

I may have listened to it thousands of times, but I’m still no closer to knowing exactly what the truth is in this song. It’s open to interpretation. Is Ruby a faithless slut of a woman? Or is her man a seething cauldron of baseless jealousy? Has she spent hours trying to convince him she’s not, in fact, taking her love to town? Maybe she’s just going out for a drink with her friends? Who could blame her? Her husband seems really depressed and angry, one pair of useless legs away from shooting her to death. If she truly is cheating on him on a regular basis, why does he keep her around?

Kenny sings the song so well it’s easy to be convinced by the pain in his voice, but I wonder, I wonder. What if it was Ruby singing the song? What would her point of view be?

Irregardless of all my questions, it’s a stunning song, written by Mel Tillis, and recorded and performed by countless artists around the world. Truly a country classic.

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