24: Halfway Home Café

24: Halfway Home Café

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music

Halfway Home Café

Story by Ricky Skaggs

Song written by Paul Overstreet and Johnny Barranco

Recorded by Ricky Skaggs

Paul Overstreet pitched “Halfway Home Café” to me on a demo tape that he had done. I had already done two or three of his songs during my career, so we had a relationship already. When I heard it, I thought, “Wow, what a great story,” and I knew it would work as a gospel song on this bluegrass record that I was working on, so it covered a lot of bases for me.

When I heard the song, I knew I wanted to tell that story. I wanted to be the waiter in the restaurant who was sort of eavesdropping on all these different conversations in the café. Paul wrote it from the waiter’s point of view. Just imagine the different conversations you hear in a day’s time as a waiter: serving coffee, serving breakfast, serving burgers. You’re going to hear a hundred stories a day, and these were just three of those stories. There was a man coming home from prison, and another man ending an affair, and then a young girl who was a runaway on her way back home.

It is such a great song about life in general and the bad choices people sometimes make. It’s a great story about forgiveness and redemption, too. People sometimes think that forgiveness is a little thing, but it’s not. It’s really the message of the cross. The world sometimes looks at Christians and they think we have it all together, or that we think we have it altogether — but we don’t. Jesus had it altogether, but we don’t always.

I was listening to a Focus on the Family radio show one day. I just happened to turn it on. And they were talking to couples that had either separated or gotten divorced and remarried each other. There was one couple in particular I remember. This man said, “I was in a honky-tonk and I was listening to the radio and this Ricky Skaggs song came on. I was sitting there and I was with someone I shouldn’t have been with, and when I heard that song, it broke me so bad. The conviction of God just came over me so strong. I knew I had been found out.” Then he said, “I got up from the table and told her, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I can’t see you anymore. This has been wrong from the start,’” — just like it says in the song. He said, “I called my wife and told her, ‘I’m so sorry for what I’ve done. Can I come back home?’ And she said, ‘I’ve been praying for you. I was praying for you just now when the phone rang.’”

Just to hear that you were a little piece of this mosaic, this picture that God was painting in this person’s life for His purposes, is amazing. To know that God still uses broken people to help put other broken people and broken lives back together again is incredible to me. He loves doing that.

Halfway Home Café

I was pourin’ coffee for table number one

I couldn’t help but hearing what was going on

It got my attention when I heard a young man’s voice

Saying, “Sheriff, I’ll be going now, if it’s alright with you boys.

Those years I spent in prison stole too much time from me

I won’t waste another minute if I’m really free.”


I’m goin’ home my family’s waitin’ for me, I’m goin’ home

I’m amazed that they still love me

They forgive me for the bitter seeds I’ve sown

Heaven knows I’ve been away too long

So now I’m going home.

A burger and a special for table number eight

I was bussin’ number seven when I heard her young heart break

He told her it was over they could never meet again

That he found a taste of courage twisting on his wedding band

Her tears began to fall but they could not touch his heart

I heard him say “I’m sorry, but it was all wrong from the start.”



There’s a million other stories from the Halfway Home Café

It’s a never ending saga and they’re played out every day

But this one’s finally over. The foods all put away

And the coffee pot stands empty at the Halfway Home Café

Over in the corner at table number three

Sits a father and a runaway, well, it looks that way to me

I said “I hate to interrupt you, but it’s really getting’ late.”

The young girl looked up smilin.’ She said “Mister that’s O.K.

I’m goin’ home. . .”


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