"Speed Trap Town" as written by and Jason Isbell....
She said, "It's none of my business but it breaks my heart"
Dropped a dozen cheap roses in my shopping cart
Made it out to the truck without breaking down
Everybody knows you in a speed trap town

Well it's a Thursday night but there's a high school game
Sneak a bottle up the bleachers and forget my name
These 5A bastards run a shallow cross
It's a boy's last dream and a man's first loss

And it never did occur to me to leave 'til tonight
And there's no one left to ask if I'm alright
I'll sleep until I'm straight enough to drive, then decide
If there's anything that can't be left behind

The doctor said Daddy wouldn't make it a year
But the holidays are over and he's still here
How long can they keep you in the ICU?
Veins through the skin like a faded tattoo

Was a tough state trooper 'til a decade back
When that girl who wasn't mama caused his heart attack
He didn't care about us when he was walking around
Just pulling women over in a speed trap town

But it never did occur to me to leave 'til tonight
When I realized he'll never be alright
Sign my name and say my last goodbye, then decide
That there's nothing here that can't be left behind

The road got blurry when the sun came up
So I slept a couple hours in the pickup truck
Drank a cup of coffee by an Indian mound
A thousand miles away from that speed trap town
A thousand miles away from that speed trap town


Lyrics submitted by mja271

"Speed Trap Town" as written by Jason Isbell

Lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

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Speed Trap Town song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentIf there's any songwriter working today more adept at telling an entire story in a three-minute song, I'm not aware of him.
    jadyon September 17, 2015   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI think by "still walking around" the storyteller in the song means back when his dad was still a healthy womanizer, before he became an invalid.
    Thunderrdon September 21, 2015   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI really like this song. It's obvious by the lyrics that the songs protagonist has suffered a traumatic loss, but it's not obvious what I was. There are hints in the lyrics that let you infer that he's recently lost the only person he feels close to( possibly his mother), and he realizes that his father who has been in that I. C. U. for over a year ( possibly in a coma) is not going to recover, and that his hometown holds nothing for him but heartache, so he signs to have his dad taken off life support and he says his last goodbyes. Then he pulls out of town and keeps driving as far as he can until he's "a thousand miles away from that speed trap town. The song is beautiful, but it's also desperate and haunting.
    Thunderrdon September 01, 2015   Link
  • +2
    General CommentBjohns it is 5a bastards, as in a classification of high school football.....songwriting gold
    Kmreed15on January 28, 2016   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree that something other than the impending death of his father is tormenting this guy and that is the reason the woman gives him the flowers. Death of his mother seems likely.

    The thing I find odd about the lyrics is

    He didn't care about us when he was walking around
    Just pulling women over in a speed trap town

    Walking around pulling people over? Don't you do that in a car? Maybe I'm over thinking it but I know Jason Isbell chooses his lyrics with great care and it wasn't just a mistake, and it seems like a very odd choice to me, especially since "driving around" would fit into the song just fine.
    SingSongSamon September 19, 2015   Link
  • +1
    General CommentShouldn't "those 5'8" bastards" be "those 5A bastards"? As in division 5A? It seems unusual to refer to a football team as 5'8" bastards.
    bjohns7778on November 19, 2015   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think this verse holds the key:
    "Well it's a Thursday night but there's a high school game
    Sneak a bottle up the bleachers and forget my name
    These 5A bastards run a shallow cross
    It's a boy's last dream and a man's first loss"

    He goes to a football game to get blackout drunk. A high school football game seems like a strange place for someone to get that drunk (maybe not in Alabama), unless that person has some connection to the team. The final penultimate line shows hostility toward the team, particularly because they run a shallow crossing route. To me, the last line seems to be saying that his son died during a football game, presumably after getting hit while running a shallow cross.

    This interpretation makes sense to me, because it would fit in with the narrative of receiving flowers in a small town, where everyone would know about the football team and, hence, the death. Also, once his dad passed, he wouldn't have anyone (except, perhaps, his son's mother) keeping him in the town that always reminds him of the death of his son.
    chris5zyon November 09, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think "walking around, pulling women over in a speedtrap town" refers to his dad walking around on his mom, and sleeping with random women (pulling them over.. maybe metaphorically). Speed traptown. Small town reference but also again to the women.
    hannahtbon January 16, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn this song I always took it as he had lost a son in the football game. Just speculating of course but he obviously lost something when those 5A bastards ran a shallow cross." A boys last dream and a man's first loss."
    timothy102on January 22, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAs a fellow Alabamian, I can attest that heavy drinking does occur at HS games. The passion is like West Texas in some areas.
    As to the last line of that verse, I don't get the sense that he lost anyone in the game. I tend to agree with those who think the song is likely about the loss of his mother.
    "It's a boy's last dream". The hope and potential in a young player is crushed when outmatched by a much more talented and physical team.
    "A man's first loss". The hits that result from a bigger, superior athlete make a man out of boy.
    I think it's just a song about a young man escaping a town full of bad memories and heartache.
    Beautiful, heartbreaking song.
    Dmoney137on May 06, 2017   Link

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