The Story Behind the Song – Reflections of Love 

Reflections of Love was written by Paul Adkins, Fred Travers and Ron Pennington, the last two being part of the Borderline Band led by Adkins. 

As the trio worked together beginning 1988 or 1989 there were plenty of opportunities for them to write songs together. Although they did compose songs during this period – each had songs on Borderline Band CDs – Reflections of Love is the only song that they did together. 

It references the American Civil War, but not a specific action during the hostilities. Yet, during that era the events implied were probably quite commonplace and its sentiments are timeless. 

Paul Adkins remembers … 

“Reflections of Love was penned by me, Ron Pennington and Fred Travers in late summer of 1990. We were sitting on my tour bus at a festival in Georgia and I was noodling a tune on the guitar. The guys in the band said, ‘What’s that song?’ I told them it was just something I was warming up with before the show and it was just in my head. (I don’t read music and will often just noodle tunes out on the guitar or mandolin.)

Everyone liked the tune and said it reminded me of the civil war era. I started singing a couple of lines and wrote them down, and I wrote the first verse and chorus in about five minutes. It just came to me all at once. 

I wanted the song to have a slight twist and decided to tell it from a different angle. Instead of being about the typical tragedies of war about men not returning home from battle, I wanted this to be about the lady dying at child birth, and let the listener use their own imagination as to the real cause, i.e., broken heart, worry for her love, etc. 

Fred and Ron wrote the other two verses and we had the song done in less than an hour. 

We wrote several songs individually as we were on the road traveling or while we were laying over somewhere waiting for the next show.”

While Fred Travers’ memory of the circumstances aren’t as clear, he confirms Adkins’ memory of the circumstances surrounding the songs’ origins …

“It’s been a long time since I thought of this song. My recollection of its composition was that Paul, Ron and I were sitting around playing on the bus just passing time, and we had this idea of a story, not based on fact, of an American Civil War soldier, and this was the result.

It must have been fate, because I remember it did come together in a short period of time. Those were fun days. Playing and creating music with great friends.”

Ron Pennington has similar memories of the time that he helped with the writing of Reflections of Love  … 

“I think it was the summer of 1990, we were working a festival somewhere in the state of Georgia. I stepped into the bus and Paul was sitting in the living area playing his guitar. He was playing a melody I didn’t recognize, so I asked him what the tune was he was playing. He said it was just something he had been just playing to warm up. I don’t remember what was said after that, but we were definitely feeling a connection to all of the civil history in the area. Paul came with the first line, ‘in her gingham gown……’ After that I came up a line, then Fred came in and added a line. Over the course of the weekend we would each have an idea to add to the story until we had it done. I don’t remember anymore specific details about it. The song was quite popular with the fans and it eventually climbed to #2 on the Bluegrass Unlimited chart.”

This video accompanies the Rebel recording of Reflections of Love

Adkins sings lead, Pennington sings the baritone part in the trio, and Travers sings tenor and high baritone on the chorus. 

Reflections of Love
by Paul Adkins, Ron Pennington and Fred Travers
Grassified / BMI 

In her gingham gown flowing to the ground 
He placed fragrant daisies in her hair
By the sweet gentle stream together they dreamed
Of their life and the wedding day they’d share

1st Chorus:

And together they would walk through flowered meadow green
Passed the church where they’d have their wedding day
And down by the gentle stream I know they could see
The reflections of the sweet love they made

Just a boy of seventeen filled with life love and dreams
And the pride from the land where he was raised
Dressed in his southern grey prepared to go away
He did vow to return to her someday

Repeat 1st Chorus:

He returned to the place where she pledged she would wait
On that warm sunny day four years before
But the sorrow filled the air when he found wasn’t there
and her hand he would never touch no more

2nd Chorus

Now dad and I, we walk through the flowered meadow green
Passed the grave where my dear sweet mother lay
And each time he looks at me I know that he can see
The reflections of the sweet love they made 

Copyright reserved.

Reflections of Love was recorded by Paul Adkins & the Borderline Band and is the title track on the CD of 14 songs about love, Reflections of Love (Rebel 1696, released in 1991). 

Adkins, Pennington and Travers were accompanied by Ned Luberecki and Robin Smith in the recording of this song. 

Currently, Adkins just plays for his own pleasure. Pennington plays mandolin in the Lonesome Road band, based south-west Missouri and north-west Arkansas. Travers plays resophonic guitar with The Seldom Scene

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.