When You Leave That Way You Can Never Go Back

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"When You Leave That Way You Can Never Go Back"
Single by Sam Neely
B-side "The Music Made Me Do It"[1]
Released 1983
Format Single
Genre Country
Length ?
Label MCA #52226
Writer(s) Steve Clark, Johnny MacRae
Producer(s) Barry Beckett
Sam Neely singles chronology
"The Party's Over (Everybody's Gone)"
(1983)
"When You Leave That Way You Can Never Go Back"
(1983)
"Old Photographs"
(1984)

"When You Leave That Way You Can Never Go Back" is a song written by Steve Clark and Johnny MacRae. The song -- a bittersweet reflection of a condemned inmate's life, looking back at all the bridges he burned and wished could be repaired -- was recorded by several country music artists, including Sam Neely, Bill Anderson and the band Confederate Railroad.

Story[edit]

"When You Leave That Way ... ," told in first-person narrative, begins with the man remembering some things about his childhood with fondness: his mother, waking to the rooster's crow and listening to Arthur Godfrey. However, his relationship with his father is very strained; after the two get into a fight one morning, the boy runs away and never returns home, beginning his troublesome life as a drifter.

Later, the man tries to settle down and eventually gets engaged to a young woman; however, on his wedding day, he leaves her standing at the altar. Later, he begins a relationship with another woman who is married; when her husband walks in on them, he shoots and kills him, eventually leading to his death sentence. (Just before the revelation of the latter of these events, he mournfully tells how he wishes he could repair his broken relationships with his parents and hold his young son.)

He burns his final bridge when a clergyman comes in to his jail cell to speak with him, shortly before he is to be put to death; however, the man tells him to go away.

Version history[edit]

Sam Neely[edit]

Sam Neely recorded the first charting version of "When You Leave That Way ... " in 1983 for the MCA Records label. His version peaked at No. 77 on the Hot Country Singles chart that year.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1983) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles[1] 77


Bill Anderson version[edit]

"When You Leave That Way You Can Never Go Back"
Single by Bill Anderson
from the album Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
B-side "Quits"[2]
Released 1985
Format Single
Genre Country
Length ?
Label Swanee #5018
Producer(s) ?
Bill Anderson singles chronology
"Pity Party"
(1985)
"When You Leave That Way You Can Never Go Back"
(1985)
"Sheet Music"
(1986)

Bill Anderson later recorded the song for his 1985 album Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.[2] His version went to number 75 on the country music charts.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1985) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles[2] 75


Confederate Railroad version[edit]

"When You Leave That Way You Can Never Go Back"
Single by Confederate Railroad
from the album Confederate Railroad
A-side "Trashy Women"[3]
Released 1993
Format CD single
Genre Country
Length 4:12
Label Atlantic #87357
Producer(s) Barry Beckett
Confederate Railroad singles chronology
"Queen of Memphis"
(1992)
"When You Leave That Way You Can Never Go Back"
(1993)
"Trashy Women"
(1993)

In 1992, Confederate Railroad recorded the song for its debut album, also titled Confederate Railroad. The song was released in 1993 as the fourth single from the album, reaching a peak of number 14 on the country music charts.[3] It was also the b-side to the album's fifth single, "Trashy Women."[3]

Critical reception[edit]

An uncredited review in The Miami Herald referred to the song positively, calling it a "soft, poignant song about burning bridges that can't be rebuilt."[4]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1993) Peak
position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[5] 18
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[6] 14

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 293. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. 
  2. ^ a b c Whitburn, p. 25
  3. ^ a b c Whitburn, p. 101
  4. ^ "Confederate Railroad Takes Listener on Lighthearted Ride". The Miami Herald. 19 June 1992. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  5. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 2198." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. August 7, 1993. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  6. ^ "Confederate Railroad Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Confederate Railroad.