"9th & Hennepin" as written by and Tom Waits....
Well, it's Ninth and Hennepin
All the doughnuts have names that sound like prostitutes
And the moon's teeth marks are on the sky
Like a tarp thrown all over this
And the broken umbrellas like dead birds
And the steam comes out of the grill like the whole goddamn town's ready to blow
And the bricks are all scarred with jailhouse tattoos
And everyone is behaving like dogs
And the horses are coming down Violin Road and Dutch is dead on his feet
And all the rooms they smell like diesel
And you take on the dreams of the ones who have slept here
And I'm lost in the window, and I hide in the stairway
And I hang in the curtain, and I sleep in your hat
And no one brings anything small into a bar around here
They all started out with bad directions
And the girl behind the counter has a tattooed tear
One for every year he's away, she said
Such a crumbling beauty
Ah, there's nothing wrong with her that a hundred dollars won't fix
She has that razor sadness that only gets worse
With the clang and the thunder of the Southern Pacific going by
And the clock ticks out like a dripping faucet
Till you're full of rag water and bitters and blue ruin
And you spill out over the side to anyone who will listen
And I've seen it all
I've seen it all through the yellow windows of the evening train


Lyrics submitted by archmastermind, edited by josh723916

"9th & Hennepin" as written by Thomas Alan Waits

Lyrics © Peermusic Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

9th & Hennepin song meanings
Add your thoughts

17 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +1
    General Comment"til you're full of rag water and bitters and blue ruin..." My favourite line but the whole piece shimmers with endlessly evocative images and states of mind. It's difficult to do the song justice by trying to craft additonal words about it. Either you're hooked by it or you're not. One thing I've always been curious about are Tom Waits' possible Minneapolis connections--he writes about the city a fair bit. Anyone with info on this?
    Irishmonkon October 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWish I knew the names of those doughnuts...
    morbid moragon July 25, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI actually wrote a short story for school based on the tattoo tear line.
    relephant23elephanton November 03, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTom waits, I believe, spent some time in Minneapolis back in the 70's. I knew a guy who ran lights for him in a small bar told how TW said... "for this next song I want a piss yellow spotlight...". I also know someone from Mpls. who remembers the doughnut shop where they actually had names like prostitutes. Of course that's all gone now as they've "cleaned up" that whole part of Hennepin Ave. The line "No one brings anything small into a bar around here" is a direct quote from the Play/Movie "Harvey". Jimmy Stewart plays the character (in the movie) and he's describing his life with his friend Harvey (a large invisible rabbit) & how they spend their time in bars listening to peoples hopes & dreams & lives.
    jacksunon December 13, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is descriptive enough to be an entire movie. I imagine a black and white movie with the narroter introducing a bar while a couple step off of a train, before they head there because of "bad directions." Then they witness a murder, get lost, can't escape, etc.
    charrbinon May 22, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"the girl behind the counter has a tattooed tear
    'one for every year he's away,' she said,"

    beautiful.

    i agree with charrbin...descriptive reaches a whole new level in this. it has that slinking detective vibe going on. you can almost imagine him taking a drag from a cigarette as he goes from each part, smoke forming a halo around whatever lightbulb is hanging from the ceiling, swaying as he exhales.
    delialon January 07, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm a big ol' poser, so I don't know Tom Waits the way I should. Is this song about 9th and Hennepin in Minneapolis?
    goodmorningmisterbenon June 05, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI was told odds are it is goodmorning. he sings of minneapolis in "christmas card from a hooker..." also. You should listen to that one as well if you haven't already. It's just as descriptive and it brings a tear to my eye every listen.
    voltafan101on August 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis guy tells stories soooo beautifully, but listen to it, its about dark and death. still i can easily listen to it before goin to sleep it is relaxing and dark! HOW DOES HE DO IT"!
    iainroboton August 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Such a crumbling beauty" ahh what a way with words. A beautiful lyricscape he conjures up.
    jezboon September 28, 2006   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain