"The Great Compromise" as written by and John Prine....
I knew a girl who was almost a lady
She had a way with all the men in her life
Every inch of her blossomed in beauty
And she was born on the fourth of July

Well she lived in an aluminum house trailer
And she worked in a juke box saloon
And she spent all the money that I give her
Just to see the old man in the moon

I used to sleep at the foot of old glory
And awake in the dawn's early light
But much to my surprise when I opened my eyes
I was a victim of the great compromise

Well we'd go out on Saturday evenings
To the drive-in on Route 41
And it was there that I first suspected
That she was doin' what she'd already done

She said, "Johnny won't you get me some popcorn"
And she knew I had to walk pretty far
And as soon as I passed through the moonlight
She hopped into a foreign sports car

I used to sleep at the foot of old glory
And awake in the dawn's early light
But much to my surprise when I opened my eyes
I was a victim of the great compromise

Well you know I could have beat up that fellow
But it was her that had hopped into his car
Many times I'd fought to protect her
But this time she was goin' too far

Now some folks they call me a coward
'Cause I left her at the drive-in that night
But I'd rather have names thrown at me
Than to fight for a thing that ain't right

I used to sleep at the foot of old glory
And awake in the dawn's early light
But much to my surprise when I opened my eyes
I was a victim of the great compromise

Now she writes all the fellows love letters
Saying "Greetings, come and see me real soon"
And they go and line up in the barroom
And spend the night in that sick woman's room

But sometimes I get awful lonesome
And I wish she was my girl instead
But she won't let me live with her
And she makes me live in my head

I used to sleep at the foot of old glory
And awake in the dawn's early light
But much to my surprise when I opened my eyes
I was a victim of the great compromise


Lyrics submitted by Bobo192

"The Great Compromise" as written by John Prine

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

The Great Compromise song meanings
Add your thoughts

9 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +1
    General CommentI saw a long time ago an interview and a thing John Prine had written this song was indeed about America and the Vietnam war. It makes a lot of sence if you listen to the words, But then again like any well written song it should mean something specific to each person who hears it.
    magnusleeon January 16, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy brother believes this is a song about America. I think I can see that, especially if it was written in the Vietnam era, "Greetings, come see me real soon". Why is it that no one comments on this artist's songs. They are SO rich. WAKE UP PEOPLE!
    jkadokinon October 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy brother believes this is a song about America. I think I can see that, especially if it was written in the Vietnam era, "Greetings, come see me real soon". Why is it that no one comments on this artist's songs. They are SO rich. WAKE UP PEOPLE!
    jkadokinon October 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah, this song is cleverly done. its made out to be about a girl hes dating, but its actually about america. The girl symbolises america. Hes talkin as if his country has betrayed him by going into vietnam. Because he opposes it, people call him a coward but hed rather that than fight for something which is wrong
    Yer_Blueson June 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't know if this is about america or not, it can be both ways. I like to think its about a girl, because it makes the song humorous.
    andreatheonlyon October 07, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI truly wish I could see the humorous slant to this song. Unfortunately, I cannot.

    I think the first verse is about how the country viewed itself before the Vietnam war; rushed to defend it and would sacrifice so much to see it to it's potential. The basic working class Americans who paid their taxes and were excited about the space program.

    I think the chorus and second verse are about his service in the military and how he was proud to be a soldier before the Vietnam war.

    The third verse, I believe, is his disdain for having to turn his back on the country that he loved so dearly to maintain personal integrity and principles.

    The fourth verse, Hmmm.....It's not very clear to me if he's alluding to being forced out of the country for abandoning his duties and wishing he could come home, but I think that's what I'll go with for now.
    DailyBuzzon March 20, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think y'all are over analyzing this song, it's about a girl, a girl that did him wrong and he still pursued her, she'd spend his money on dope, she'd fuck guys with cool cars, and all for what reason..?? Because he was a compromise, not her first choice, not valuable enough to worry about losing.
    Brachson July 13, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentits about The Vietnam war and how screwed up it was. If you have Netflix watch "the last days of Vietnam." There was a cease fire drawn up by Nixon who North Vietnam (the bad guys) thought was crazy and agreed to the cease fire. Then Nixon resigned. 6 months later North Vietnam started up again and took all of South Vietnam and Saigon last while the U.S. Embassy there were scrambling to get out of there by choppers and taking as many S. Vietnamese as possible with them. Masterpiece of song writing. Sam Stone was his other more obvious Vietnam tune. I never get involved in this stuff but I know a little about this thing. Peace.
    gerry42603on November 13, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe Beatles started out writing with their Hearts and finished writing with their Heads. John Prine has always done both.

    This one's pretty straight forward and doesn't need to be analyzed to figure out. From start to finish it's clearly about the good ole' USA and the Vietnam War, he uses plenty of symbolism and the allusions are clear.
    keets55on November 13, 2017   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain