Sam Stone came home
To his wife and family
After serving in the conflict overseas
And the time that he served
Had shattered all his nerves
And left a little shrapnel in his knees
But the morphine eased the pain
And the grass grew round his brain
And gave him all the confidence he lacked
With a purple heart and a monkey on his back

There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes
Jesus Christ died for nothin' I suppose
Little pitchers have big ears
Don't stop to count the years
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios

Sam Stone's welcome home
Didn't last too long
He went to work when he'd spent his last dime
And Sam, he took to stealing
When he got that empty feeling
For a hundred dollar habit without overtime
And the gold roared through his veins
Like a thousand railroad trains
And eased his mind in the hours that he chose
While the kids ran around wearin' other peoples' clothes

There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes
Jesus Christ died for nothin' I suppose
Little pitchers have big ears
Don't stop to count the years
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios

Sam Stone was alone
When he popped his last balloon
Climbing walls while sitting in a chair
Well, he played his last request
While the room smelled just like death
With an overdose hovering in the air
But life had lost its fun
There was nothing to be done
But trade his house that he bought on the GI bill
For a flag-draped casket on a local hero's hill

There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes
Jesus Christ died for nothin' I suppose
Little pitchers have big ears
Don't stop to count the years
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios


Lyrics submitted by Bobo192

"Sam Stone" as written by John Prine

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Sam Stone song meanings
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28 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentThis is the first Prine song I ever heard and I didn't know anything about him, or the name of the song, for the longest time. Years later I finally located the song and bought my first Prine album and he has turned out to be one of my all-time favorite songwriters.

    In reference to the discussion of the "little pitchers" line, this phrase has been in use for at least 100 years in American vernacular. Basically it means adults must be careful about what they say within the hearing of children because they understand way more than we give them credit for. The saying refers to the large handles (ears) sometimes attached to small vessels.
    kckidon March 09, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat song. Obvious and sad meaning.
    frty0zon April 13, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJohn Prine is definitely underrated. He has a talent to put obvious meanings in such poetic form. My favorite line is "Sweet Songs never last too long on broken radios." Does anyone know what "little pitchers have big ears" would mean?
    southernanthemon December 11, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy wild guess is "Sweet Songs never last too long on broken radios." meant life is shorter to those who abuse their bodies with hard dope.
    dcaton December 12, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy dad's explaination on "little pitchers have big ears" is a reference, one, to how children say the word 'pictures', two, "little pitchers" in reference to a picture of children, three, little kids with big ears. Prine is amazing. My dad is a HUGE John Prine fan.
    reflect4everon December 21, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentvery sad that an injured soldier returned home and brought all that he had endured with him,leading him down a bad road with drugs.After awhile it consumed his everyday life and he thought nothing of his family but only his own pain."little pitchers have big ears"refers to his children taking all that went on in their home in and him not realizing that they knew or understood,that is what i get out of this song.
    sly_lil_maxyon February 26, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah, this song's about drugs.....no doubt about it.
    cclover_98on June 06, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe first time I heard this song I was very young, my dad liked it too, and now I'm really into it.
    I'm doing a homework assignment on it and I have to analyze the lyrics, and the only lyrics I can't undertand is; "Climbing walls while sitting in a chair"
    and; "Well, he played his last request
    While the room smelled just like death"
    Can anyone help??????
    Homicideon October 03, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt means war sucks, that kids suffer when their parents do, and that rarely can someone make it sound beautiful.

    Homicide: "climbing walls..." -> Heroin high resulting in an overdose.
    cclover 98: You're right as well.
    kckid: Thanks for clearing up the "little pitchers" thing.

    I'm wondering where he came up with the name "Sam Stone".
    MeanSprouton November 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Climbing walls while sitting in a chair" refers to a person on an excessive high or alternately, going through withdrawals.

    "Played his last request while the room smelled just like death" - his last high, the final overdose. Also, hardcore junkies will often cease bathing because when their pores are clogged with dirt, grime and whatever else, they stay high longer. I guess after a while, that would smell like death.
    IslandMykon November 01, 2007   Link

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