The song “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” was written by Mel Tillis about a man who served likely in the Vietnam War with regard to when the song was released in 1969. This man returned paralyzed, presumably from the waist down as he could not walk. This song was originally recorded by Johnny Darrell, however it was made famous by Kenny Rogers. Kenny Rogers version of this song reached top 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
In the song lyrics, it reads, “It wasn’t me that started that crazy Asian war.” This is a direct reference to the Vietnam war. He goes on to say, “It’s hard to love a man who’s legs are bent and paralyzed,” indicating that while in Vietnam, some sort of tragic accident happened that left him wheelchair bound. He proceeds to talk about how his wife Ruby would go out to town at night to find somebody to love, because she can’t see past the crippled man he has become. He indicates this by saying You’ve painted up your lips, And rolled and curled your tinted hair, Ruby are you contemplating, Going out somewhere… Oh Ruby, Don’t take your love to town.” He shows signs of resentment, as anyone would, toward her later in the song saying, “And if I could move I’d get my gun, And put her in the ground.” I believe this indication of violence also shows how the effects of war also takes a mental toll on the returning soldiers as well.
This song really touches on the idea that veterans did not receive any respect on the return of this war, due to the lack of support and because of the fact that we lost the war. Many veterans returned mentally and physically crippled, having much difficulty returning back to normal society. Also, due to the way that the war was dragged out for so long and the lack of communication available during the time, many of the soldiers girlfriends and wives would seek out other men.