Add Explanation
Add Meaning
New! Read & write lyrics explanations
  • Highlight lyrics and explain them to earn Karma points.
John Prine – Paradise lyrics

When I was a child my family would travel
Down to western kentucky where my parents were born
And there's a backwards old town that's often remembered
So many times that my memories are worn.

And daddy won't you take me back to muhlenberg county
Down by the green river where paradise lay
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister peabody's coal train has hauled it away

Well, sometimes we'd travel right down the green river
To the abandoned old prison down by adrie hill
Where the air smelled like snakes and we'd shoot with our pistols
But empty pop bottles was all we would kill.

Repeat chorus:

Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.

Repeat chorus:

When I die let my ashes float down the green river
Let my soul roll on up to the rochester dam
I'll be halfway to heaven with paradise waitin'
Just five miles away from wherever I am.

Repeat chorus:

Lyrics taken from

  • Email
  • Correct


  • u
    Prine is writing about one of the many cities of kentucky that have been lost because of strip mining. However, there are many inaccuracies in this song. Paradise was never stripped by peabody - it was stripped by the pittsburg & midway coal mining company and then the remaining town bought and destroyed by the tennessee valley authority in order to built the world's largest cyclonic fired boiler at the paradise fossil plant. Although peabody did bring the world's largest shovel to the area, it was used at the sinclair mine south of paradise.
    Add your reply
  • u
    This song has a lot of meaning for me. Living on the edge of the anthracite coal region in PA, I've seen many small "patch towns" disappear. It's impossible to win any battles with the big corporations once they acquire the mineral rights. The town my mother grew up in was completely gone before she graduated from high school. All that's left are the pictures in the archives of what it once looked like.
    Add your reply

    Write about your feelings and thoughts

    Know what this song is about? Does it mean anything special hidden between the lines to you? Share your meaning with community, make it interesting and valuable. Make sure you've read our simple tips.
    Min 50 words
    Not bad