"Gun Street Girl" as written by and Tom Waits....
Falling James in the Tahoe mud
Stick around to tell us all the tale
Well he fell in love with a Gun Street girl
And now he's dancing in the Birmingham jail
Dancing in the Birmingham jail

He took a hundred dollars off a slaughterhouse Joe
Brought a brand new Michigan twenty-gauge
He got all liquored up on that road house corn
Blew a hole in the hood of a yellow Corvette
A hole in the hood of a yellow Corvette

He bought a second-hand Nova from a Cuban Chinese
And dyed his hair in the bathroom of a Texaco
With a pawnshop radio, quarter past four
He left for Waukegan at the slamming of the door
Left for Waukegan at the slamming of the door

I said John, John, he's long gone
Gone to Indiana, ain't never coming home
I said John, John, he's long gone
Gone to Indiana, ain't never coming home

He's sitting in a sycamore in St. John's wood
Soaking day-old bread in kerosene
Well he was blue as a robin's egg and brown as a hog
He's staying out of circulation 'til the dogs get tired
Out of circulation 'til the dogs get tired

Shadow fixed the toilet with an old trombone
He never get up in the morning on a Saturday
Sitting by the Erie with a bull-whipped dog
Telling everyone he saw, They went that-a-way, boys
Telling everyone he saw, They went that-a-way

Now the rain's like gravel on an old tin roof
And the Burlington Northern pulling out of the world
Now a head full of bourbon and a dream in the straw
And a Gun Street girl was the cause of it all
A Gun Street girl was the cause of it all

Well he's riding in the shadow by the St. Joe ridge
Hearing the click-clack tapping of a blind man's cane
He was pulling into Baker on a New Year's Eve
One eye on a pistol and the other on the door
One eye on a pistol and the other on the door

Miss Charlotte took her satchel down to King Fish Row
Smuggled in a brand new pair of alligator shoes
With her fireman's raincoat and her long yellow hair
Well they tied her to a tree with a skinny millionaire
They tied her to a tree with a skinny millionaire

I said John, John, he's long gone
Gone to Indiana, ain't never coming home
I said John, John, he's long gone
Gone to Indiana, ain't never coming home

Banging on the table with an old tin cup
Sing I'll never kiss a Gun Street girl again
Never kiss a Gun Street girl again
I'll never kiss a Gun Street girl again

I said John, John, he's long gone
Gone to Indiana, ain't never coming home
I said John, John, he's long gone
Gone to Indiana, ain't never coming home


Lyrics submitted by archmastermind

"Gun Street Girl" as written by Tom Waits

Lyrics © JALMA MUSIC

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Gun Street Girl song meanings
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6 Comments

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  • +2
    My InterpretationFirst stanza: "I'm going to tell you a story about a man who fell in love with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Now he's in jail."
    Second stanza: "He stole some money, bought a gun, got drunk on grain alcohol, blew a hole in the hood of a yellow Corvette."
    Third stanza: "Bought a cheap little car got out of town as fast as he could, and disguised himself on the run."
    Fourth stanza: Chorus.
    Fifth stanza: "Hiding in the woods (or perhaps actually hiding in a tree in the woods) eating food that isn't the best and drowning it in strong booze. A shame for someone so young to have seen so much tragedy (or, perhaps he meant blue=sad and brown=skin color). He's hiding until they stop looking."
    Sixth stanza: "Lived a comfortable life in hiding for a while..."
    Seventh stanza: "But the blues caught up with him and his comfortable, hidden life turned maddening."
    Eight stanza: "Still feeling safely hidden away, he got busted--eyes darting from the cop to the door."
    Ninth stanza: "The Gun Street Girl ended up married to a rich man. (perhaps she didn't really want to. Perhaps she was the rich guiy's fiance` when the protagonist got involved with her...)"

    My interpretation.
    Hraesvelgon June 11, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationAn old desperado once told me that if I was ever stuck for a drink to get a chunk of stale bread and pour kerosene thru the bread. The bread acts as a filter: retaining the stuff you don't want and furnishing you with the stuff you very much want. I've always thought that it was this that Waits was referring to. Certainly you won't throw a bloodhound off your trail with kerosene, wish you could , but you can't.
    JamCityon August 06, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTo me it sounds like the melody (and rhythm) was taken from Tennessee Ernie Ford's Sixteen Tons, a very Waits-esque song.

    This is especially audible during this song's refrain and during similar sounding lines (ex.: both song's first line, "Some people say a man is made outta mud"/"Falling James in the Tahoe mud," or, "I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine"/"He never get up in the morning on a Saturday").

    Still, Waits makes the tune his own through his lyrics, which are great as usual, and the stripped down backwoods instrumentation on the banjo is different and works incredibly well.
    terrycraigon September 01, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General Commentabsolutely one of my favourites, and what a story!
    MardyAsson July 12, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWaukegan. Fucking great.
    ImMedicatedon September 18, 2007   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningIn the fifth stanza of Gun Street Girl, Hraesvelg interpretation "eating food that isn't the best and drowning it in strong booze" is their interpretation of "soaking day old bread in kerosene" - soaking bread in kerosene is a way to trow off tracking dogs.
    Sguesmanon January 01, 2014   Link

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