Monday, 16 February 2009

Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town - Kenny Rogers, The Killers, Leonard Nimoy, Walter Brennan & more


I was in two minds (only two?) over what to title this post : Ruby... was certainly a guilty pleasure during my childhood, not cool at all to enjoy country music. But it's an excellent, if understated, story song too - not the classic verse-after-verse sort, but one where your mind fills in all the details & history. 

You create your own image of a crippled ex-soldier, and of Ruby - contemplating a night out... all made-up, hair tinted & curled; even of the house where our story-snippet takes place. I don't know if there was ever a video to accompany the song, certainly I've never seen it - but imagination & the right lyrical cues provide all that's needed to construct my own private viewing - right down to the pained, resigned look & involuntary start when the door slams.

So it's a story song - a 1970's (not so guilty) pleasure; and of course I've got the odd one or two cover versions. Odd being the operative word for Walter Brennan's, but surprisingly not for Leonard Nimoy, who plays it dead straight. The song loses most of its impact with the Jerry Reed cover, but always a pleasure to hear him sing, & especially play guitar.

Jason and the Scorchers really rock the song up a lot - but don't sound like it's a cover for the sake of it, unlike say, some punk covers of other songs. But, and there's always a but - no-one here comes close to the chilling effect of Kenny Rogers' grave-sounding "Ruby - for God's sake, turn around".


Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town - Kenny Rogers & The First Edition
Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town (1969)
buy


Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town - Leonard Nimoy
The New World of Leonard Nimoy (1970)
buy


Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town - Walter Brennan
Yesterday, When I was Young


Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town - Cake
Wheels EP (2005)
buy


Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town - Jerry Reed
When You're Hot, You're Hot (1971)
buy


Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town - The Killers
Sawdust (2007)
buy


Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town - Jason and the Scorchers
Wildfires and Misfires (2001)
buy

and in case you thought I'd forgotten... yep, Mel Tillis wrote it in 1967 - and here he is performing it live, and on record.
Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town - Mel Tillis (live)

Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town - Mel Tillis
buy | website
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and honestly - I'm not trying to include every last version of this song, ever made... ( no, really!) but it was first released in 1967, by Johnny Darrell; so it'd be almost rude not to let you hear him, wouldn't it?.

Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town - Johnny Darrell
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You wanna know which I like the most? - that'll be Kenny Rogers and Johnny Darrell - the first cuz it makes the most of the story, & is quite chilling at the end (what's he gonna do?) - and the second - well, just cuz I do. Oddly, I didn't like it at first; but the simplicity & honesty won me over. Which of these do you prefer?.
 
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