Even the old folks never knew
Why they call it like they do
I was wondering since the age of two
Down on Copperline
Copper head, copper beech
Copper kettles sitting side by each
Copper coil, cup o'Georgia peach
Down on Copperline
Half a mile down to Morgan Creek
Leaning heavy on the end of the week
Hercules and a hog-nosed snake
Down on Copperline
We were down on Copperline

One Summer night on the Copperline
Slip away past supper time
Wood smoke and moonshine
Down on Copperline
One time I saw my daddy dance
Watched him moving like a man in a trance
He brought it back from the war in France
Down onto Copperline
Branch water and tomato wine
Creosote and turpentine
Sour mash and new moonshine
Down on Copperline
Down on Copperline

First kiss ever I took
Like a page from a romance book
The sky opened and the earth shook
Down on Copperline
Down on Copperline
Took a fall from a windy height
I only knew how to hold on tight
And pray for love enough to last all night
Down on Copperline
Day breaks and the boy wakes up
And the dog barks and the bird sings
And the sap rises and the angels sigh, yeah

I tried to go back, as if I could
All spec house and plywood
Tore up and tore up good
Down on Copperline
It doesn't come as a surprise to me
It doesn't touch my memory
Man I'm lifting up and rising free
Down on over Copperline
Half a mile down to Morgan Creek
I'm only living for the end of the week
Hercules and a hog-nosed snake
Down on Copperline, yeah
Take me down on Copperline
Oh, down on Copperline
Take me down on Copperline

Lyrics submitted by oofus, edited by friendless

Copperline song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +2
    My InterpretationThis song is about moonshine. The place is called copperline because of a moonshine still (copper kettels sitting side by each). His daddy was dancing because he was drunk. His first "kiss" was his first drink of moonshine and afterwards being all drunk and the feeling of euphoria that it brought him. When he finally comes to he has a hangover and tries to go back home "tore up, tore up good". I love this song. Try taking a drink everytime he says copperline! You shall be tore up too!
    zaphod69on May 10, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love the lyrics--they create such a wonderful series of images--and the intricate tune and instrumentation with their fond, nostalgic feel.

    "The day breaks and the boy wakes up and the dog barks and the bird sings and the sap rises, and the Angels sigh..." That gives me chills every time. Wonderful!
    law4on April 10, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThere is a twist in this song. We are prepared to think that the songwriter in the last stanza is visiting his run down home town. An insightful earlier entry on this thread (scooby3339) even assumes that the visit metaphor closes the song. But there is another set of lines after that. These actual closing lines show the songwriter has never left, he is still living in Morgan Creek, he never moved away.

    The reason he never moved away relates to the central theme. The title, copperline refers to the copper still, which is how you make moonshine. The centrality of moonshine in the song narrative is noted in an earlier post (see zaphod69 for a great description).

    There are more memories in this song that solely the alcohol. (See scooby3339 for a good case regarding the many charming memories). And those delightful parts carry the song and make it a fave.
    JackStahlon December 03, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song has quite an amazing and unique relevance to my life and personal experiences. Sometimes I feel as if James wrote this song especially for me. In “Copperline,” James is singing about the place where he grew up, Chapel Hill, NC. At the southern part of Chapel Hill is an area nicknamed Copperline. He refers to Morgan Creek where he played as a child. One of Morgan Creek's bridges has recently been renamed the James Taylor Bridge. It’s kind of funny how the song starts out, "Even the old folks never knew," because I had never been able to learn the roots of the name Copperline, yet had always been intrigued to its origin. I lived on Copperline Drive in Chapel Hill, which is about a half mile from Morgan Creek (“Half a mile down to Morgan Creek.”) I lived there with my beautiful and wonderful fiancée, who I absolutely adore. The home we shared there was our paradise. We would often go on nature walks at the local creeks, spotting many snakes (“Copper head” and “hog-nosed snake.”) Kissing my love was like experiencing true happiness for the very first time, just like something from a romance novel (“First kiss ever I took, like the page from a romance book.”) Now, the most dramatic part of my translation begins. In July of 2002, our house was struck by lightning and burned to the ground (“The sky opened and the earth shook, down on Copperline.”) Following this tragedy, many things in our relationship changed. A short time passed and we canceled our wedding and then called off our engagement. Those events give deep personal meaning to the next lines “Took a fall from a windy height, I only knew how to hold on tight, and pray for love enough to last all night”. At this point my life was falling out of control and my only instinct was to hold on and pray for our love to prevail – something I have done to this day. This fall was unlike any other I had experienced in my life, leading to short-term depression. I would often go back to the place where our home once stood and daydream. I could see her beautiful, smiling face peering out of the window a me. I would hear the echoes of our happiness that appeared lost, as if they were trying to reunite with our souls. As things came back into focus, all I could see was what remnanted of our former home (“I tried to go back as if I could…Tore up and tore up good.”) I have come a long way in healing my wounds from this experience, which gives significance to the line, “Man I’m lifting up and rising free, down over Copperline.” Tomorrow marks one year to the day since our misfortune. I will be at that site, absorbed in my thoughts – some sure to include the words to this wonderful song.
    tonysimmson July 01, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell that stinks. And on the Seventh Day, God created insurance so that man could feel whole again after having their house burnt down.

    Well anyway I have nothing constructive to add. Nice little bass line in the song.
    stoolhardyon January 27, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTony -- thank you for that wonderful story. It is absolutely amazing how a perfect song can have such perfect relevance to your life at times.

    This song to me has such a humanity to it; just like most of JT's songs. It's so connected to a memory and perfectly expressed. Beautiful song.
    triswebon April 30, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have to be honest, I had never heard of this song prior to 2005. When I heard it for the first time I was hooked. It's a marvelous song with a beautiful melody.

    Tony...what a great story. To find a song that so closely coincides with your life is amazing.
    mkgon February 12, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti always loved these lines:

    One time I saw my daddy dance
    Watched him moving like a man in a trance
    He bought it back from the war in France

    reminds me of being a kid looking on while my parents danced in the living room
    ltienkeon November 14, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song always reminded me of my grandfather. He served in World War II in France and came home and worked for forty years on the Pennsylvania Railroad. "He bought it back from the war in France." Sure, I realize it's not really about railroads and World War II veterans, but that's the meaning the song has always had for me.
    Edbrookson September 17, 2009   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation maps and pics of morgan creek ...... morgancreek.org/
    James Taylor bridge is where S. Columbia crosses 54 bypass and continues as 15/501 toward Pittsboro.
    Taylor homeplace at 618 Morgan Creek Rd has a 1/2 mile long unnamed creek that flows from it into Morgan Creek. I suspect this branch is referred to as Copperline.
    pablunion September 12, 2010   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top