Three waitresses all wearing
Black diamond earrings
Talking about zombies
And Singapore slings
No trouble in their faces
Not one anxious voice
None of the crazy you get
From too much choice
The thumb and the satchel
Or the rented Rolls-Royce
And you think she knows something
By the second refill
You think she's enlightened
As she totals your bill
You say "Show me the way
To Barangrill"

Well some say it's in service
They say "Humble Makes Pure"
You're hoping it's near Folly
'Cause you're headed that way for sure
And you just have to laugh
'Cause it's all so crazy
Ah, her mind's on her boyfriend
And eggs over easy
It's just a trick on you
Her mirrors and your will
So you ask the truck driver
On the way to the till
But he's just a slave
To Barangrill

The guy at the gas pumps
He's got a lot of soul
He sings Merry Christmas for you
Just like Nat King Cole
And he makes up his own tune
Right on the spot
About whitewalls and windshields
And this job he's got
And you want to get moving
And you want to stay still
But lost in the moment
Some longing gets filled
And you even forget to ask
"Hey, Where's Barangrill?"



Lyrics submitted by ruben

"Barangrill" as written by Joni Mitchell

Lyrics © Joni Mitchell/Crazy Crow Music/Siquomb Music, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind


Barangrill song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +2
    General Comment:This song is about not just roaming and travelling, but the constant search for authenticity - for people who are "real", and who really understand what life is about. JM contrasts this with her own faltering confidence, and the fear that she has got too comfortable, too spoilt. (This is a common theme in her songs, where she feels vaguely guilty about being "used to that clean white linen" or going "shopping .. for jewels", or in this case having the choice of the "rented Rolls Royce"). She builds up a fantasy that these simple folk in the bar and grill really "get it", aren't corrupted by too many choices, and too much self-consciousness. Then she laughs out loud at how ridiculous she is to dream that her waitress is enlightened - "ah, her mind's on her boyfriend".

    This song is so beautiful, so unique in tone, so honest. It reminds me of my own youth at the same time, and my friends' own fantasies that they would be closer to real people if they were dock workers or trawlermen or (sorry but I remember someone saying this) American Indians.
    kevinmac27on May 25, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:i sort of see this song as a prelude to Hejira as a whole. Y'know in the travelling references and due to the fact that it takes place at a truckstop diner. Make sense?
    pumkinhedon December 02, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Zombie refers to a cocktail that's been around since the 1930s. It has three different kinds of rum. I'm told it tastes something like a Long Island iced tea, which itself has a reputation for turning people brainless.

    The three waitresses are wearing their priestly raiment as they lead their congregation in the worship of the well-lubricated throat, and the mirrors, etc., of the lounge are as important to that service as the icons of the catholic church are to mass. Don't forget, wine is part of the Eucharist.

    Nat King Cole was Natalie''s father. While he was genial host of a variety show in the late 50s or early 60sm he was already well known before that,and if you didn't own his top-selling Christmas LP, you heard it when you shopped at the hardware store to buy a chip-and-dip set as a present. Nat wasn't threatening, and even the klansmen said thet boy shore kin sing.

    Court & Spark and Miles of Aisles are wonderful and Blue is holy, but after 40 years, For The Roses is becoming my favorite album, not just for this song and Judgement of the Moon and Stars, but for all the cuts. Anyone who thinks this album mediocre simply hasn't marinated enough years in that crazy you get from too much choice.
    deaconbon March 08, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:But this is actually on "For The Roses" which I think is interesting because it illustrates the difficulty in medicrity. Which is largely what FTR is about, which Hejira is slightly more adventurous as far as travel and exploration.
    emer327on May 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:this song hits me more and more every time i hear it. it reminds me of tom robbins' representations of brilliant waitresses with degrees forced to make ends meet with blue collar jobs.

    i read it as an ode to these sort of women: the characters in the diner realize that these waitresses possess some sort of higher knowledge than their jobs let on, and "barangrill" is regarded as a place to obtain this higher knowledge, like the river in siddhartha. "you ask the truck driver if he's just a slave to barangrill", just driving around looking for enlightenment.
    Havenspearon January 05, 2010   Link
  • 0
    Song Meaning:I'm going to try and write about as many of Joni's songs as I possibly can, and I encourage others to get writing and give their opinions. It's a travesty to see so few attempts at interpretation of a lot of songs form her 'golden period', as they deserve to be understood, or at least attempted!

    This song is about Joni searching for 'Barangrill', which seems to represent pleasure in the simple things in life rather than looking for the deeper meaning.
    The word 'Barangrill' when broken down to 'Bar and Grill' represents drink and food, two of the simplest necessities of life.
    The song has an air of paranoia, as if there's something the narrator doesn't know that everyone around her does.
    There is also a strong sense of irony throughout the track, as the deep thinking narrator searches for answers from the simpler folk in her surroundings of a 'Barangrill', what appears to be a trucker's café. At times she seems to be searching for answers from them, and at times looking down on them, as if she can't quite decide what's real.

    Three waitresses all wearing
    Black diamond earrings

    The song starts with her observation of the waitresses, she immediately notes they are all wearing the same kind of earrings, a sign of uniformity. 'Black diamond' can also refer to old printed $10 bills, as they had a bull named Black diamond on them. It could be a reference to the earrings being cheap.

    Talking about zombies

    They're not discussing anything 'important', nothing enlightening, they are simply discussing "Zombies' (this is probably a reference to popular movies, void of depth,easy to watch and something that many people who work in a place like this might be talking about, just shooting the breeze and killing time. Although it could also refer to the people in their lives, the customers, brain-dead like zombies).

    And Singapore slings

    Singapore slings are a type of cocktail; Once again what they're discussing has no depth.

    No trouble in their faces
    Not one anxious voice

    They are not concerned with the same things as the narrator, the deeper meanings, and as a result they look younger and sound less anxious, less affected by seeing things with the jaded experience of the narrator.

    None of the crazy you get
    From too much choice

    Simple people, living simple lives, and seemingly happier because of it.

    The thumb and the satchel
    Or the rented Rolls-Royce

    This is a reiteration of the last line, the thumb and the satchel is a reference to academia and schooling, and the rented Rolls-Royce a reference to personal wealth. (Who RENTS a Rolls-Royce? Children with money going to their prom.)

    And you think she knows something
    By the second refill
    You think she's enlightened
    As she totals your bill
    You say "Show me the way
    To Barangrill"

    The narrator is convinced - take me out of my life, your problems seem much simpler than mine, this must be the way I should be living, not with all my worry and the burden of my art and my love.

    Well some say it's in service

    "It" is Barangrill.

    They say "Humble Makes Pure"

    The reason the waitresses still have the purity that Joni feels she lacks is that they are humbled by serving people, instead of spoiled for choice

    You're hoping it's near folly
    'Cause you're headed that way for sure

    She's talking to herself - She feels she's headed for eventual foolishness, and is hoping that 'Barangrill' is on the way, hoping her enlightenment can be found before she becomes the fool, before she becomes crazy which is what she feels she's becoming with all the clutter of her life.


    And you just have to laugh
    'Cause it's all so crazy

    She's laughing at herself and changing her mind again, telling herself she's crazy and that it can't be that simple, it can't be the way it seems to be.

    Ah, her mind's on her boyfriend
    And eggs over easy

    This is like saying to herself "Come on, don't be so stupid, there's nothing going on in her head but what you'd expect" . No deeper enlightenment, no hidden conspiracy, just what you'd expect - her job and her boyfriend.

    It's just a trick on you

    She's seeing things that aren't there.

    Her mirrors and your will

    If someone has mirrors on them and you're looking at them, then you're looking at your own reflection. She's seeing what she wants to see.


    So you ask the truck driver
    On the way to the till
    But he's just a slave
    To Barangrill

    The truck driver has no answers for you, he's a simple man who doesn't know much outside of Barangrill.

    The guy at the gas pumps
    He's got a lot of soul
    He sings Merry Christmas for you
    Just like Nat King Cole
    And he makes up his own tune
    Right on the spot
    About whitewalls and windshields
    And this job he's got

    This is literal - She has come across someone outside of Barangrill, and he is funny (Impersonating Nat King Cole) and creative (Making up his own tune), and she is distracted from her paranoid thoughts by someone who seems more similar to her own view of herself rather than the waitresses, despite their professions being world apart.

    And you want to get moving
    And you want to stay still

    You're being pulled in different directions - you want to get out of there and forget all about Barangrill and the things you were thinking about, but you're also suddenly content with where you are, for the first time in a while.

    But lost in the moment
    Some longing gets filled

    She realizes that the only time she is happy in her life is when she's actually LIVING it, and not worrying about what other people might be thinking, and thinking her dark thoughts.

    And you even forget to ask
    "Hey, Where's Barangrill?"

    You stop looking for things to worry about when you are distracted. Her preoccupation is not what's driving her mad - it's the very thing that is keeping her sane.
    She's happiest in life when she's not thinking about whether she's happy in her life.

    Joni is a genius! Give me your thoughts if you make it though this short essay, I'd love to hear other fan's interpretations, and read any revisions/improvements on what I've written.
    ihearechoeson September 11, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:This song introduced Joni's long foray -- more of an evolution, actually -- into the genre of jazz instrumentation and jazz-style vocals. The song structure does away with the standard verse-chorus-verse in favor of just repeating the same line-to-line progression three times, all ending with a reference to the place identified in the title. I first heard it after having already listened a lot to "Court and Spark," and was struck that unlike most of the rest of the "For the Roses" album, it sounded similar to some songs on that album, particularly "Just Like this Train" and "People's Parties," in style, melodic structure, and instrumentation. So it was a foreshadowing of what was to come in her big commercial breakthrough album, which also featured a jazz band playing pop, rock, and jazzy melodies.
    greendreameron February 21, 2013   Link
  • -1
    General Comment:I don't agree that this song is about extolling the virtues of waitresses and gas station attendants. I think it's about Joni--the woman writing the song, not the characters in it.

    The singer's a very smart woman who's sick of journalists, academics, and people who supposedly have answers. Like on the album Hejira, she hits the road in search of her own answers. But it's not really for their supposed enlightenment that Joni admires the waitresses and gas station attendants she encounters: it's just 'cause they're the opposite of journalists and academics and so on.

    The quest is about her, not about the people she meets; in fact, Joni's condescending, talking about these people's simplicity. I think she knows that. She writes, "Her mind's on her boyfriend and eggs over easy," undercutting her assertions about this person's enlightenment. Plus, there's the simple fact that she calls her Mecca or whatever Barangrill, or Bar and Grill. I think that's a bit of a self-deprecating joke.

    Joni's being a narcissist, and she knows it, but that doesn't mean her confusion and desire for truth isn't sincere. This is one of my favorite songs on the album, but I think it's moony-eyed to act like it's some Fanfare for the Common Man.
    gpphon March 30, 2012   Link

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