"Downtown Train" as written by and Tom Waits....
Outside another yellow moon
Has punched a hole in the nighttime, yes
I climb through the window and down the street
I'm shining like a new dime
The downtown trains are full
With all those Brooklyn girls
They try so hard to break out of their little worlds

Well, you wave your hand and they scatter like crows
They have nothing that will ever capture your heart
They're just thorns without the rose
Be careful of them in the dark
Oh if I was the one
You chose to be your only one
Oh baby can't you hear me now, can't you hear me now?

Will I see you tonight
On a downtown train?
Every night it's just the same
You leave me lonely, now

I know your window and I know it's late
I know your stairs and your doorway
I walk down your street and past your gate
I stand by the light at the four-way
You watch them as the fall
Oh baby, they all have heart attacks
They stay at the carnival
But they'll never win you back

Will I see you tonight
On a downtown train?
Every night it's just the same
Oh, baby

Will I see you tonight
On a downtown train?
All of my dreams just fall like rain
Oh, baby, on a downtown train

Will I see you tonight
On a downtown train?
Every night, every night it's just the same
Oh, baby

Will I see you tonight
On a downtown train?
All of my dreams just fall like rain
Well, on a downtown train

Well, on a downtown train
Well, on a downtown train
Well, on a downtown train
On a downtown train


Lyrics submitted by archmastermind

"Downtown Train" as written by Thomas Alan Waits

Lyrics © Peermusic Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group

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Downtown Train song meanings
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28 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentPoppier, sure, but still heartbreakingly sad, like the best of Waits. About being ignored and overlooked. The metaphor of the train which simply zooms by not stopping as you watch it go, is perfect.
    Smokleron May 24, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General Commentever live in a city? where you end up having one-sided 'relationships' with strangers that you see daily but know you'll never truly connect with? here our hero is idealizing one who is at least ostensibly more than he could ever ask for or has seen trudge by on the daily. and it isn't a nice, though brief escape to fantasize yourself a brand new reality-world on your commute back from work?

    rod stewart is a steward of satan, whether working on maggie's farm or riding a downtown train.
    highway pigon September 18, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentTo me the Tom Waits song is about the very basic human need for love. It seems to be about a lonely man and his longing for a woman, this is in a broad sense as he views all the Brooklyn girls caught in the same trap of their ordinary lives, going downtown on a search of their own. To him though they're the thorns without the rose, there is just one who's captured his heart, like a fairy tale princess, out of reach. I'm not even sure if she even exists or whether she's part of the dream in the hearts of the Brooklyn girls themselves.......all those lonely people waiting to be taken out of it by love.
    NWNmoonon September 22, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI've never heard Rod Stewart's cover, to my knowledge, and honestly I hope I never will.

    I heard this song for the first time driving around LA one mopey afternoon, and I fell utterly in love with it. "Rain Dogs" was my first Waits album and still my favorite, and this might well be my favorite song. Heartbreaking, certainly - I love the Brooklyn girls, who "have nothing that will ever capture your heart, they're just thorns without the rose - be careful of them in the dark" - but also the wistfulness of "if I was the one you chose to be your only one" and the yellow moon punching a hole in the night-time. Just a perfect mix of grounded urban observations and wild romantic flight. One of my very favorite songs.
    innocentsmithon June 16, 2007   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI would not call it stalkerish as the narrator is completely passive. Which is what makes it so utterly sad. It is about being ignored, being lonely as the world zooms by you without paying attention, like a train. It's one of the great songs about heartbreak, perhaps ever.
    Smokleron October 01, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis is a real gut-wrenching song to me, though other hardcore Waits fans may dismiss it for its pop appeal. I like the interpretation given to the same song but Rod Stewart's cover. anyway, to me, it's about a lonely man who is in love with a girl that just does not give him the time of day. he goes a bit mad -- he does not know what to do with himself but to walk around the lonely streets, singing, and waiting, for one day, for her to appear before him. of course, she never does, and he continues to wait, for the downtown train.
    vandenbergon June 11, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAnother one for that heartbreaking, hopecrushing, mendestroyer ladies, and one of her victims who stands neither a ghost of a chance of winning her, nor one of getting over her.
    Visually impecable. And that couple of first verses...
    Will Waits ever get it wrong?
    superchangoon June 24, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's one of his best songs - the lyrics are just so great.
    You'd think this is would be an impossible song to screw up, but somehow Rod Stewart sure managed it.
    How could the guy who sang "Stay with me" turn in such a sappy, pathetic piece of easy-listening crap?
    The saddest part is knowing that 99% of the world thinks Rod's version is the original.
    And even sadder is that those bastards would probably still prefer Mr. Do Ya Think I'm Sexy's version even if they heard both.
    It's all enough to make you lose faith in humanity...
    retrorocketon February 14, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWonderful song! I like Rod Stewart's version, too, and I like Mr. Stewart's first name - ROD. Anyhow, Mr. Waits is truely the best lyricist in the popular music world. Even Dylan, who the babyboomers always rave about, has only a handful of songs that reach the level of Waits' sophistication.
    Sunflowerpowergirlon January 15, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOne of the most beautiful songs ever written and sung in Tom's gravel voice is truly meant. It's about loneliness and dreaming of love that can't be reached. he is looking at the girl in the window, she is looking at the bright lights of the city, both searching for the same thing in different places; the same things we all look for and find at different times in different ways. I read a beautiful book on Amazon kindle called 'Why do some apples Get Rotten' that has the same searching theme and wonderful lyric style. she's a courtesan but does she want love? Of course she does.
    NWNmoonon November 15, 2012   Link

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