Well the cop made the showdown
He was sure he was right
He had all of the lowdown
From the bank heist last night
His best friend was the robber
And his wife was a thief
All the children were killers
They couldn't get no relief
The bungalow was surrounded
When a voice loud and clear
Said, Come on out with your hands up
Or we'll blow you out of here.
There was a face in the window
The TV cameras rolled
Then they cut to the announcer
And the story was told

The artist looked at the producer
The producer sat back
He said, What we have got here
Is a perfect track
But we don't have a vocal
And we don't have a song
If we could get these things accomplished
Nothin' else could go wrong.
So he balanced the ashtray
As he picked up the phone
And said, Send me a songwriter
Who's drifted far from home
And make sure that he's hungry
Make sure he's alone
Send me a cheeseburger
And a new Rolling Stone.

There's still crime in the city,
Said the cop on the beat,
I don't know if I can stop it
I feel like meat on the street
They paint my car like a target
I take my orders from fools
Meanwhile some punk blows my head off
Well I play by their rules
That's why I'm doin' it my way
I took the law in my hands
So here I am in the alleyway
A wad of cash in my pants
I get paid by a ten year old
He says he looks up to me
There's still crime in the city
But it's good to be free.

Now I come from a family
That has a broken home
Sometimes I talk to my Daddy
On the telephone
When he says that he loves me
I know that he does
But I wish that I could see him
I wish I knew where he was
But that's the way all my friends are
Except maybe one or two
Wish I could see him this weekend
Wish I could walk in his shoes
But now I'm doin' my own thing
Sometimes I'm good, then I'm bad
Although my home has been broken
It's the best home I ever had

Well I keep gettin' younger
My life's been funny that way
Before I ever learned to talk
I forgot what to say
I sassed back to my momma
I sassed back to my teacher
I got thrown out of Bible school
For sassin' back to the preacher
Then I grew up to be a firemaan
Put out every fire in town
Put out anything smokin'
But when I put the hose down
The judge sent me to prison
He gave me life without parole
Wish I never put the hose down
Wish I never got old

Lyrics submitted by Lwis

Crime In The City song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentOne of the greatest Neil Young Songs!
    Not much to tell about, pretty easy to understand.

    Line 1 and 3 are of course about the same cop, he has enough of the "crime in the city", he even get's paid by a 10 year old, so he takes the law in his own hands and barricades himself in his bungalow.

    This song is wonderful and always gives me a rush, just a masterpiece of songwriting!
    Lwison April 10, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOmfg.. Great song, my personal favorite off of Freedom next to Someday and Rockin' In The Free World, and River, I agree with what you said, I love this song. Very pretty acoustic part I may add, why haven't more people commented on it?
    JoE][BoXeRon December 14, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNeil & Crazy Horse perform a blistering, electric live version of this song on Weld, which blows the Freedom track out of the window, if I may state.
    Muggeron May 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is so sweet, yeah the weld version is the definitive version in my opinion. The ones he did on the acoustic tour in 1989 were great too!
    danger birdon June 14, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAgree with everyone on Weld being the definitive version. Several parts of this song are distinctly autobiographical, especially about coming from a broken home (Neil's parents had a bitter divorce which resulted in a move across Canada from his dad who stayed in Ontario) and the wishing he never got old, which clearly takes us back to Hey Hey My My (better to burn out...) On Weld, he doesn't sass back to the preacher--he gives him the finger! Freedom is a weak substitute for the full-blown Horse treatment on Weld.
    mikegrosson August 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAgree that this is a great song, though it's too bad that he edited it for length. The full-length version, "Sixty To Zero", is only available on bootlegs.
    beer goodon March 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI always thought this song was some kind of an analogy between cops/criminals and artists/record labels.
    Skycmefallingon December 09, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe live Weld version is pretty freakin' badass. But the studio version on Freedom is not crap compared to it. They both have their own unique qualities. The studio version is sonically beautiful in my opinion, all the instruments sound crisp and beautiful with the smooth sax solos over it all. Amazing.
    hammy02on December 27, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI always thought this was Neil's way of paying homage to Bob Dylan in this song, cus it starts out like "All along the watchtower". In Both songs the author puts you inside a great story, you can almost picture the whole thing he's talking about. I could be wrong though. This is just a master storryteller at work.
    justasimpleguyon February 23, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe penultimate take of this song was the acoustic solo take
    from jones beach.
    freedom tour june 89'
    ShakeyFan2on January 21, 2010   Link

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