That you were sittin’ on a gate of a truck by the lake
With your high school flame on one side, ice cold beer on the other
Ain’t no shame in a blue collar forty, little house, little kid, little small town story
If you don’t ever do anything else for me, just do this for me brother,
Come on home, boy.
That's the chorus to Eric Church's country hit, Homeboy. Homeboy is like the story of the Prodigal Son, only in this version, the Prodigal doesn't come home and the elder brother actually wishes he would, and would be perfectly happy not only to kill the fatted calf for him but pop open a few beers as well.
I like the song, and I probably would have just let the problematical lyrics slide over me while enjoying the melody, Church's voice, and the play on words in the first and last lines of the chorus, if it weren't that I have internet friends in this same situation. They've left home and the life that was all planned for them by well-meaning family, and their families aren't taking it well. "Come home", they say, and home is not just a place, but a mindset. "Just do this for me, stop being who you are and be the person I imagined you would be. Otherwise, you'll be sorry."
The song is sung in the first person, but the "I" and "me" of the song isn't the writer, Casey Beatherd. Mr. Beatherd is the son of an NFL general manager and now lives in Nashville and writes songs, so he hasn't been baling hay out in the back forty. It isn't Eric Church, either. Eric Church has been singing professionally since his senior year in high school, and according to Wikipedia broke up with his first fiancee when her father wanted him to give up singing for a corporate career. Church eventually married someone else, apparently not his high school flame. So our narrator is a fictional character, which is perfectly fine with me, but I'm trying to figure out what to call him.
Let's go with Elder Brother. Elder Brother's love for Homeboy comes through in the song. He truly believes that sittin’ on a gate of a truck by the lake with your high school flame on one side, ice cold beer on the other is what will make Homeboy happy. Those of us looking at the situation from the outside know that if Homeboy were able to be happy with the truck, the lake, and his high school flame, he wouldn't have left that life, but this is what makes Elder Brother happy, so it should make everybody happy. Well, everybody except maybe the songwriter and singer who created Elder Brother, but I do know a lot of people who live this life and they are happy.
I could use a little help unloading these bales
I could keep you pretty busy with a hammer and nails
Ain’t a glamorous life but it will keep you outta jail,
Not worry us all to death
The song only makes sense if Homeboy isn't actually in jail. You can't tell someone who's doing 10-15 in prison to just "come on home boy", unless it's part of a deal you're making with him before you testify at his parole hearing. So while Homeboy's urban lifestyle worries the folks back home, we don't know from the song lyrics that he is doing anything illegal. He could be working at a tattoo parlor. Heck, he could own the tattoo parlor. Elder Brother disapproves of Homeboy's tattoo on his neck, but as I said, I live near a rural area, I know people like Elder Brother, and they have tattoos on their necks, too. Our nearby rural areas are also famous for meth labs. It's not like Homeboy couldn't find plenty of trouble for himself if he came on home, if trouble is what he wants, rather than simply space to live his own life and dream his own dreams.
I don't know if you could write a song that goes, "Is there some way you could live your life, and I could live mine, and mama and daddy could live theirs, but we could still be a family? Could you come on home for a visit, boy?" We don't hear Homeboy's thoughts on the subjects, but I've read the thoughts of several homeboys and girls on the internet and I know they aren't asking that question from their side, either, despite all my gentle prodding. I've decided there's no point in trying to give advice to people who've never seen my face.
If Elder Brother were to ask my advice, though, I'd tell him that a place that welcomes you for who you are, not for who they intended you to be, is what I'd call home, boy.