This is one of the ugliest, most mean-spirited songs I’ve ever heard, pointlessly depressing and unpleasant and with a particularly noxious streak of misogyny to boot. Granted, there were plenty of maudlin Country ballads circulating in the late Sixties, but songs like “Little Green Apples” and “Honey” were generally maudlin in a saccharinely sentimental way, not in an ugly and cruel way like this abomination. I can’t believe the great Country songwriter Mel Tillis wrote this thing, or that it became such a Country standard that talented singers like Waylon Jennings and Roger Miller ended up recording it. But Kenny Rogers is the one who made it a hit, and it set the tone for the entire remainder of his career…it’s hard to see songs like “Coward of the County” as anything but an attempt to make another “Ruby”.
Verdict: This is one of the worst songs I have ever heard in my life, and given what I’ve covered elsewhere on this site, you should know I do not make that statement lightly.