"You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" as written by and Darrell Scott....
In the deep dark hills of eastern Kentucky
That's the place where I trace my bloodline
And it's there I read on a hillside gravestone
You will never leave Harlan alive

Oh, my granddad's dad walked down
Katahrins Mountain
And he asked Tillie Helton to be his bride
Said, won't you walk with me out of the mouth
Of this holler
Or we'll never leave Harlan alive

Where the sun comes up about ten in the morning
And the sun goes down about three in the day
And you fill your cup with whatever bitter brew you're drinking
And you spend your life just thinkin' of how to get away

No one ever knew there was coal in them mountains
Till a man from the Northeast arrived
Waving hundred dollar bills he said I'll pay ya for your minerals
But he never left Harlan alive

Granny sold out cheap and they moved out west
Of Pineville
To a farm where big Richland River winds
I bet they danced them a jig, laughed and sang a new song
Who said we'd never leave Harlan alive

But the times got hard and tobacco wasn't selling
And ole granddad knew what he'd do to survive
He went and dug for Harlan coal
And sent the money back to granny
But he never left Harlan alive

Where the sun comes up about ten in the morning
And the sun goes down about three in the day
And you fill your cup with whatever bitter brew you're drinking
And you spend your life just thinkin' of how to get away

Where the sun comes up about ten in the morning
And the sun goes down about three in the day
And you fill your cup with whatever bitter brew you're drinking
And you spend your life digging coal from the bottom of your grave

In the deep dark hills of eastern Kentucky
That's the place where I trace my bloodline
And it's there I read on a hillside gravestone
You will never leave Harlan alive


Lyrics submitted by ButNeverOutgunned

"You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" as written by Darrell Scott

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive song meanings
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5 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentFirst of all, it is not "In the deep dark hells of eastern Kentucky", but rather HILLS. Also, the song refers to the Richland River, not Richmond River.

    Anyone who is familiar with Appalachia knows that where Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia meet is Coal Country, USA. Harlan, Kentucky is the town that coal built. Located on the Cumberland and Martin's Fork Cumberland Rivers between two mountains, the sun really does come up about ten and goes down about three due to the profile of the mountains. Generations of miners have toiled in the Harlan County mines. Many successive generations have lived, worked and died in Harlan, unable to leave town due to the poverty and limited economic opportunities in the region. Many of these miners died in these dangerous and unhealthy conditions, hence, "You will never leave Harlan alive". Quite a sombering song, originally performed by Patty Loveless.
    gmaniac6899on August 28, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti guess my question is, was this song from a movie or something or is this just a song?
    disgbearon July 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy fiance is from the next town over from Harlan, KY!
    rockerpoeton January 08, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy fiance is from the next town over from Harlan, KY!
    rockerpoeton January 08, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCumberland mountains. Not kataran.
    m0wryon October 02, 2014   Link

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