"Paradise" as written by and John Prine....
When I was a child my family would travel
Down to Western Kentucky where my parents were born
And there's a backwards old town that's often remembered
So many times that my memories are worn

And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away
Well, sometimes we'd travel right down the Green River
To the abandoned old prison down by Airdrie Hill
Where the air smelled like snakes and we'd shoot with our pistols
But empty pop bottles was all we would kill

Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man

When I die let my ashes float down the Green River
Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester dam
I'll be halfway to Heaven with Paradise waitin'
Just five miles away from wherever I am

Lyrics submitted by Bobo192, edited by mef

"Paradise" as written by John Prine

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Paradise song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentTo bobwronski....I am from Muhlenberg County, and this song is actually very specific. Paradise is the actual name of the town on the Green River where a coal-burning power plant was built. As you're driving westward on the Western Ky Pkwy, the first thing you see as you cross the Green River going into Muhlenberg County is the Paradise power plant.
    powerofcitruson March 30, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSignature Prine - Innocence of our childhood has left us. Although this really did happen to his parents' hometown, I can say my hometown is no longer there anymore, although it is physically.
    rudythesandwichboyon May 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song was written by John about a friend of mine who was shot and murdered. very tragic. (i also happen to live near muhlenberg county. you can see the worlds largest shovel when youre headed east on the highway.)
    Halcyonon December 11, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti love htis song - i sang it at hippie summer camp and it took me years to find out who sang it. it's so sad but beautiful at the same time
    bugmenoton March 17, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIndustry, especially coal mining and logging, have ruined so many good and beautiful things. This song is probably about nostalgia for an old small town, which a coal company decided was a prime location for a mining operation.
    bobwronskion June 07, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentpowerofcitrus is correct, John Prine mentions this in an interview with Ted Kooser. John Prine's family was too from Paradise.
    bigbluezukon August 29, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song. I heard it as a child and it took years to find it again. I mistakenly thought that it was a John Denver song. Takes me back to when I was a kid, paradise to me.
    moeheadon July 18, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe lyrics need a small correction: It's not Adrie Hill (even though it's pronounced that way), it's Airdrie Hill. Check it out via Google Maps -- Airdrie Hill is in Paradise KY.

    It's been years and years, but I grew up in Kentucky and have seen the World's Largest Shovel there in Muhlenberg County. The song is so specific -- which, to me, makes it seem more personal -- that it's a shame to get the name of the hill wrong.

    (I've submitted a correction, but there's no telling whether it'll be corrected at all.)
    mefon December 08, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnyone have any thoughts on what "the air smelled like snakes" means? The rest of the song seems to be pretty literal. Is this line referring to something real and specific?
    bjohns7778on August 25, 2015   Link

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