"A Better Place To Be" as written by and Harry F. Chapin....
It was an early morning bar room,
And the place just opened up.
And the little man come in so fast and
Started at his cup.
And the broad who served the whiskey
She was a big old friendly girl.
And she tried to fight her empty nights
By smilin' at the world.

And she said "Hey Bub, It's been awhile
Since you been around.
Where the hell you been hidin'?
And why you look so down ?"

But the little man just sat there like he'd never heard a sound.

The waitress she gave out with a cough,
And acting not the least put off,
She spoke once again.

She said, "I don't want to bother you,
Consider it's understood.
I know I'm not no beauty queen,
But I sure can listen good."

And the little man took his drink in his hand
And he raised it to his lips.
He took a couple of sips.
And he told the waitress this story.

"I am the midnight watchman down at Miller's Tool and Die.
And I watch the metal rusting, and I watch the time go by.
A week ago at the diner I stopped to get a bite.
And this here lovely lady she sat two seats from my right.
And Lord, Lord, Lord she was alright.

"Well, she was so damned beautiful she could warm a winter's frost.
But she was long past lonely, and well nigh kinda lost.
Now I'm not much of a mover, or a pick-em-up easy guy,
But I decided to glide on over, and give her one good try.
And Lord, Lord, Lord she was worth a try.

"I was Tongued-tied like a school boy, and I stammered out some words.
But it did not seem to matter much, 'cause I don't think she heard.
She just looked clear on through me to a space back in my head.
And it shamed me into silence, as quietly she said,
'If you want me to come with you, then that's all right with me.
Cause I know I'm going nowhere, and anywhere's a better place to be.
Anywhere's a better place to be.'

"I drove her to my boarding house, and I took her up to my room.
And I went to turn on the only light to brighten up the gloom.
But she said, 'Please leave the light off, Oh I don't mind the dark.'
And as her clothes all tumbled 'round her, I could hear my heart.
The moonlight shown upon her as she lay back in my bed.
It was the kind of scene I only had imagined in my head.
I just could not believe it, to think that she was real.
And as I tried to tell her she said 'Shhh.. I know just how you feel.
And if you want to come here with me, then that's all right with me.
'Cause I've been oh so lonely, lovin' someone is a better way to be.
Anywhere's a better way to be.'

"The morning came so swiftly as I held her in my arms.
But she slept like a baby, snug and safe from harm.
I did not want to share her or dare to break the mood,
So before she woke I went out to buy us both some food.

"I came back with my paper bag, to find that she was gone.
She'd left a six word letter saying 'It's time that I moved on.'"

The waitress took her bar rag, and she wiped it across her eyes.
And as she spoke her voice came out as something like a sigh.
She said "I wish that I was beautiful, or that you were halfway blind.
And I wish I weren't so god-damned fat, I wish that you were mine.
And I wish that you'd come with me, when I leave for home.
For we both know all about loneliness, and livin' all alone."

And the little man,
Looked at the empty glass in his hand.
And he smiled a crooked grin,
He said, " I guess I'm out of gin.
And know we both have been so lonely.
And if you want me to come with you, then that's all right with me.
'Cause I know I'm goin' nowhere and anywhere's a better place to be."


Lyrics submitted by kevin

"A Better Place to Be" as written by Harry F. Chapin

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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A Better Place To Be song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentWhen Harry Chapin's brother Tom was going to college in Northern New York, Harry was the one who would transport his brother back and forth to school One of their stops along the way was a little bar here in Watertown, called the Chimes. I don't think that the events in the story actually happened, but the little man and the big old friendly gal who tended bar were both real people, cause I knew both of them. The barmaid, whose name was Erma, had pictures of all the regulars taped up across the back bar, including the college kids who made the Chimes our regular hangout, as well as the ones who had gone off to Vietanm, or to the big city, plus pictures of all the new brides and babies as we acquired them. Erma passed away suddenly in 1972, just days before a bunch of Chimes alumni planned to drop in and suprise her.
    God bless you, Erma. I miss you.
    leefroyon August 17, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI'm going to throw any shred of dignity I have left out the window.

    This song almost makes me cry.
    Scatteredon April 08, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentOnly Harry Chapin could write an 11 minute song that flies by when you hear it because the story is so real.

    This is a story of 3 down and out people who find comfort in each other (not all at once). This is not triumphant love, but rather broken humans huddling together against the darkness of their nights.

    Harry Chapin uses some of the most beautiful words to paint this song:

    "I am the midnight watchman down at Miller's Tool and Die, and I watch the metal rusting and I watch the time go by"

    "I wish that I were beautiful or that you were halfway blind"

    The people break my heart every time and I want to sing the song over and over so they can live again.
    Sylviedon December 04, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI can't believe more people are not on this site. This is one of Harry's best songs. The greatest story teller of song does what he does best in this song. He tells a story. I want to do her and do her over again because she is not perfect but needy and needed. I hate happy endings but I want them to be together because they are not perfect but they are sexy and hot together.
    frmboy59on May 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI can't believe no one has commented on this song yet! This is the song that got me into Harry Chapin, because it's just so beautiful. I like the version from "Greatest Stories: Live" better than the original. The meaning is right there is the song: "Loving someone is a better way to be." I identify with all three characters in the song. The waitress who "tries to fight her empty nights by smiling at the world." The midnight watchman who stumbles trying to speak to someone beautiful, and the woman who feels that temporary love is better than no love at all. I highly recommend giving this song a listen.
    Sofkurion December 07, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is my favorite chapin song.

    Well, honestly, you don't really need any other chapin disc besides greatest stories live, he's got a bunch of other great stuff, just not as emotionally moving as that.
    Italian Phaethonon July 01, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think this song is beautiful, it deals with so many issues and i think it can relate to loads of people. i have only just recently discovered the genius of harry chapin and am SO addicted. he was a terrific story teller and i think this really comes across in this song. definitely one of the best songs ive ever heard
    bex-17on May 12, 2006   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionI love this song too, have been listening to it for years. Just realized the other day that the second/middle "and if you want me to come here with me" is a double entendre. Very clever!
    phantom309on February 14, 2016   Link

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