"Billy Austin" as written by and Steve Earle....
My name is Billy Austin
I'm Twenty-Nine years old
I was born in Oklahoma
Quarter Cherokee I'm told
Don't remember Oklahoma
Been so long since I left home
Seems like I've always been in prison
Like I've always been alone
Didn't mean to hurt nobody
Never thought I'd cross that line
I held up a filling station
Like I'd done a hundred times
The kid done like I told him
He lay face down on the floor
Guess I'll never know what made me
Turn and walk back through that door
The shot rang out like thunder
My ears rang like a bell
No one came runnin'
So I called the cops myself
Took their time to get there
And I guess I could'a run
I knew I should be feeling something
But I never shed tear one
I didn't even make the papers
'Cause I only killed one man
But my trial was over quickly
And then the long hard wait began
Court appointed lawyer
Couldn't look me in the eye
He just stood up and closed his briefcase
When they sentenced me to die
Now my waitin's over
As the final hour drags by
I ain't about to tell you
That I don't deserve to die
But there's twenty-seven men here
Mostly black, brown and poor
Most of em are guilty
Who are you to say for sure?
So when the preacher comes to get me
And they shave off all my hair
Could you take that long walk with me
Knowing hell is waitin' there
Could you pull that switch yourself sir
With a sure and steady hand
Could you still tell youself
That you're better than I am
My name is Billy Austin
I'm twenty-nine years old
I was born in Oklahoma
Quarter Cherokee I'm told

Lyrics submitted by bugmenot

"Billy Austin" as written by Steve Earle

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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Billy Austin song meanings
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  • +2
    General Commentthis song is so fucking poignant.
    Colosimoon November 30, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI agree with Colisimo on Steve Earle's absolute masterpiece Billy Austin. Said character was in the wrong place at the wrong time. When America murders, lives cannot be brought back. That's why I'm against the death penalty!! Steve Earle is a writer and an artist who feels compassion for the downtrodden, the hard-hit and the forgotten in society. You don't analyze tragedy-it's just there!!! Steve Earle deserves my praises because he specializes in the art of being human. I'm glad he's my friend because he feels empathy for people at the end of their rope. If there is a lesson learned, we need to feel compassion for those who can't cope with modern life!
    rabbitbunnyon January 01, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretationthis really screams of bob Dylan influence on steves artistry. I believe steve is making a political point that while many people on death row are guilty of their crimes but some may not be. he asks the executioner if he feels any guilt for killing people and if he is 100 percent sure what he is doing is right. he shows compassion for people who have come to their lowest point in their life and have admitted to it. we all have to deal with this question in our own lives and will we know when we get there the right road to take. steve has chosen the right road and I pray we all will. personable accountability making this world a better place one person or soul at a time. what a great concept and great song!!!!
    dukiebannonon October 02, 2014   Link

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