"Live Oak" as written by and Jason Isbell....
There's a man who walks beside me

It is who I used to be

And I wonder if she sees him

and confuses him with me

And I wonder who she's pinin' for

on nights I'm not around

Could it be the man who did the things

I'm living now ?

I was rougher than a timber

shippin' out of Fond du Lac

When I headed south at 17

ol' sheriff on my back

I never held a lover in my arms or in my gaze

So I found another victim every couple days

But the night I fell in love with her

I made my weakness known

Through the fires and the farmers diggin' dusty fields alone

The jealous innuendos of the lonely hearted men

Let me know what kind of country I was sleeping in

Well you couldn't stay a loner

on the plains before the war

My neighbors had been slightin' me

I had to ask what for

Rumors of my wickedness had reached our little town

Soon she'd heard about the boys I used to hang around

We'd robbed a Great Lakes freighter,

killed a couple men or more

And I told her her eyes flickered like the sharp steel of a sword

All the things that she'd suspected

I'd expected her to fear

Was the truth that drew her to me when I landed here

There's a man who walks beside me

he is who I used to be

And I wonder if she sees him and confuses him with me

And I wonder who she's pinin' for

on nights I'm not around

Could it be the man who did the things

I'm living down ?

Well I carved a cross from live oak

and a box from shortleaf pine

Buried her so deep

she touched the water table line

I picked up what I needed

and I headed south again

To myself I wondered

would I find another friend

There's a man who walks beside her,

it is who I used to be

And I wonder if she sees him and confuses him with me.


Lyrics submitted by SongMeanings, edited by jfoxx, Kafziel, hawklawson

"Live Oak" as written by Jason Isbell

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Live Oak song meanings
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  • +2
    Song MeaningThis song is about the impact of sobriety (NPR Interview):

    Along with sobriety came a whole new set of concerns, which Isbell channeled into Southeastern. "Live Oak" begins with the lines, "There's a man who walks beside me / He is who I used to be / And I wonder if she sees him and confuses him with me."

    "I worried about what parts of me would go along with the bad parts, because it's not cut and dried," Isbell says. "It's not like you make the right decision, and everything's great, and you're a better person for it. You are, you know, at least 51 percent better. But there are some things that are lost forever, and that's just a fact of it."

    He says he was concerned about the impact his sobriety would have on all of his personal relationships.

    "I was thinking, 'Well, what do they like?' " Isbell says. " 'Do they like that guy? What combination of those two guys are gonna make those folks stay in my life?' Luckily, most of the people that I really cared about were there for me. And I think at the core, I still have the same values. I just actually behave according to those values now a lot more."

    NPR: npr.org/2013/06/10/190372187/…
    CBradshawon July 08, 2013   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationInteresting little story about a man who did some terrible things as a very young man that he obviously now regrets. He's trying to run away from that life and settles down in a small town with a girl that he has fallen in love with. He's thinking he can settle down and live here, when he starts to suspect that the girl is more drawn to his old self than his new.
    The stories of his past life catch up with him, and soon the neighbors in the town start avoiding him. When he finds out they know, he comes clean with the girl. He was worried she would be horrified by him, but turns out, she is delighted with this side of him.
    Knowing he doesn't want to go back to that life, and that he has to keep running. He kills the girl, buries her and moves on hoping to find the next small town where he can settle down.
    jfoxxon June 24, 2013   Link

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