The first thing I remember knowin'
Was a lonesome whistle blowin'
And a young’un’s dream of growing up to ride
On a freight train leavin' town
Not knowing where I’m bound
And no one could change my mind, but Mama tried

One and only rebel child
From a family meek and mild
My mama seemed to know what lay in store
'Spite o' all my Sunday learnin'
Towards the bad I kept on turnin'
'Til Mama couldn’t hold me anymore

I turned twenty-one in prison doin' life without parole
No-one could steer me right, but Mama tried, Mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading I denied
That leaves only me to blame, 'cause Mama tried

Dear old Daddy, rest his soul
Left my mom a heavy load
She tried so very hard to fill his shoes
Working hours without rest
Wanted me to have the best
She tried to raise me right, but I refused

And I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading I denied
That leaves only me to blame 'cause Mama tried