"Red Dirt Girl" as written by and Emmylou Harris....
Me and my best friend Lillian
And her blue tick hound dog Gideon,
Sittin on the front porch cooling in the shade
Singin every song the radio played
Waitin for the Alabama sun to go down
Two red dirt girls in a red dirt town
Me and Lillian
Just across the line and a little southeast of Meridian.

She loved her brother I remember back when
He was fixin up a '49 Indian
He told her 'Little sister, gonna ride the wind
Up around the moon and back again"
He never got farther than Vietnam,
I was standin there with her when the telegram come
For Lillian.
Now he's lyin somewhere about a million miles from Meridian.

She said there's not much hope for a red dirt girl
Somewhere out there is a great big world
That's where I'm bound
And the stars might fall on Alabama
But one of these days I'm gonna swing
My hammer down
Away from this red dirt town
I'm gonna make a joyful sound

She grew up tall and she grew up thin
Buried that old dog Gideon
By a crepe myrtle bush in the back of the yard,
Her daddy turned mean and her mama leaned hard
Got in trouble with a boy from town
Figured that she might as well settle down
So she dug right in
Across a red dirt line just a little south east from Meridian

She tried hard to love him but it never did take
It was just another way for the heart to break
So she dug right in.
But one thing they don't tell you about the blues
When you got em
You keep on falling cause there ain't no bottom
There ain't know end.
At least not for Lillian

Nobody knows when she started her skid,
She was only twenty seven and she had five kids.
Coulda' been the whiskey,
Coulda been the pills,
Coulda been the dream she was trying to kill.
But there won't be a mention in the news of the world
About the life and the death of a red dirt girl
Names Lillian
Who never got any farther across the line than Meridian.

Now the stars still fall on Alabama
Tonight she finally laid
That hammer down
Without a sound
In the red dirt ground

Lyrics submitted by Bobo192, edited by AsburyPark

"Red Dirt Girl" as written by Emmylou Harris

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Red Dirt Girl song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentGod, I love this song. One of my favorites ever - such beautiful music, and so sad. It makes me want to cry! I suppose it's about her friend Lillian, wanted nothing more to get out of a hick town in Alabama, but never did.
    riotgrl04on April 25, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentApparently the genesis of this song came when she was driving by herself down to a recording gig in Nashville, and passed through a little hick town called Meridian Mississippi. The name had a rhythm that appealed to her, and she started to come up with rhymes, like Gideon, Lillian, etc. The soil in the area was mostly red clay. By the time she got to Nashville she'd pretty much written the entire song.
    crazymanmichaelon July 19, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThere is a lot to chew in this one. This is what war and violence do to families, it all started with the death of her brother, amazing.
    hippyathearton June 13, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is one of the most tragic songs I've ever heard. It's about the pain of people who live and hurt so much and never really have a chance, but whose lives are as important as anyone's in the world.
    celtmagic310on September 06, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think that there is a possibilty that her brother "never got further than vietnam" because he had to go and fight in the war. just a suggestion.
    rose pickleon November 08, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe assonance of the "eon" rhyme is SO impressive.
    thisbetheverseon December 20, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentRegarding the stars falling on Alabama: on November 12, 1833, there was a Leonid meteor shower in Alabama (visible other places, too) and people thought judgement day was coming. This was immortalized in the 1934 Perkins/Parrish jazz standard, "Stars Fell on Alabama," which has been recorded by numerous artists. Even Alabama license plates bore the "Stars Fell On" slogan from 2002-2009.

    I think that the significance of the hammer comes from "hammer songs," mostly southern spiritual work songs that slaves and the free working poor would sing to make their difficult toil more pleasant.

    This is my favorite Emmylou Harris song and it makes me cry every single time I hear it.
    sharkycharmingon July 24, 2013   Link

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