Joe Hardin

Decatur

The first song on Come On, Highway is a song called “Decatur.”  The original idea for the song was a line from the traditional song “Shady Grove,” which is also on the album.  In “Shady Grove” the line is “The last time I saw Shady Grove she was standing  in the door/Her shoes and stockings in her hand; her little bare feet on the floor.”  It’s a good image—the girl at the door—and it’s one that I was not afraid to steal for this song.  I don’t know for sure, but on the surface it seems to be a song about seeing someone who has been abused get revenge; I think it may really be a song about some dude who is afraid to go on what would have probably been the ride of his life.  Don’t confuse the writer with narrator, though.  It ain’t me.  I always took the ride.  I toyed with the line about the tattoo and finally did write a more g-rated one, but what the hell?  The song deserves the roughness and suggestive nature of the line.  And the name “Decatur?”  I never knew anyone named “Decatur” but it’s a town near where I grew up and it sounds better than “Dakota.” 

Decatur

Decatur had a Chevy, it was turquois over white

She claimed that she had won it in a poker game one night

I’d give a year of paychecks to have another chance you know

But she was running from the sheriff and I was too afraid to go

 

Her mother ran off early and left her with her pa

He took his anger out on her so she went to the law

There’s nothing I can do for you the sheriff said and smiled

You are your father’s daughter as you are your mother’s child

 

Rolled up sleeves and cigarettes a tattoo of Jesus inked upon her breast

“Come on, come on,” she said “come on and ride with me”

We’ll roll the country’s backroads, just to see what we can see

 

She took up with the first man who spoke kind words to her

But she was hard to handle her anger hard to curb

One night he laid his hand on her and she went for a gun

She left him in a pool of blood and she went on the run

 

There’s one last thing I have to do I’ll do it and be damned

I’ll kill the man who started this and made me what I am

She knew that he’d be in the bar with his back turned toward the door

She shot him with her pistol and he fell upon the floor

 

Last time I saw Decatur she was standing in the door

A warm revolver in her hand her clothes were wet and torn

She had put away her anger and she had put away her hurt

The taillights of the Chevy were the last I saw of her

 

Rolled up jeans and cigarettes

A tattoo of Jesus inked upon her breast

She had put away her anger and she had put away her hurt

The taillights of the Chevy were the last I saw of her

 

Comments

One of my favorite Joe Hardin songs; great storytelling, imagery, and music/voice, all. A classic story.

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