"Town with No Cheer" as written by and Tom Waits....
Well it's hotter 'n blazes and all the long faces
there'll be no oasis for a dry local grazier
there'll be no refreshment for a thirsty jackaroo
from Melbourne to Adelaide on the overlander
with newfangled buffet cars and faster locomotives
the train stopped in Serviceton less and less often
There's nothing sadder than a town with no cheer
VicRail decided the canteen was no longer necessary there
no spirits, no bilgewater and 80 dry locals
and the high noon sun beats a hundred and four
there's a hummingbird trapped in a closed down shoe store

This tiny Victorian rhubarb
kept the watering hole open for sixty five years
now it's boilin' in a miserable March 21 st
wrapped the hills in a blanket of Paterson's curse
the train smokes down the xylophone
there'll be no stopping here
all ya can be is thirsty in a town with no cheer
no Bourbon, no Branchwater
though the townspeople here
fought her VicRail decree tooth and nail
now it's boilin' in a miserable March 21 st
wrapped the hills in a blanket of Paterson's curse
the train smokes down the xylophone
there'll be no stopping here
all ya can be is thirsty in a town with no cheer


Lyrics submitted by yuri_sucupira, edited by Mellow_Harsher, ff3366

Town with No Cheer song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentWhen I saw the title and lyrics of this song I thought of an old Australian drinking song. A google search revealed that it probably is a rewrite of this song, the Slim Dusty hit "Pub With No Beer", hence "Town With No Cheer".
    taal_19on April 05, 2007   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningThis song is about s small town on the border of Victoria, Australia called Serviceton. There is a train station in Serviceton and the Overlander train does pass through it, however the station is not actually in use any more.
    nassion October 30, 2009   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningThis song is about s small town on the border of Victoria, Australia called Serviceton. There is a train station in Serviceton and the Overlander train does pass through it, however the station is not actually in use any more.
    nassion October 30, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYeah Tom came out to Victoria/Autralia a few years before this song was written. He was on the Don Lane show and got made fun of by the Host, Don who really couldn't comprehend Tom's Schtik at the time - years later he became a massive Tom Fan.

    Anyways I've always liked to think that Tom must have taken the Overlander train to Adelaide and got told the story of Servicetown by the bartender on the train - or maybe they stopped at serviceton in those days and the pub was shut:)
    dogboxon March 18, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhen I first heard this song I was staggered by the way it captures the Australian bush. I think it is one of the best poetic descriptions of a small Australian country town - the quietness, where nothing happens, the heat. "A blanket of pattersons curse" - think about this on the next hot January day. the clank of the rail metal. and yes I do think he riffs on the "pub with no beer" but in a way that such a place is lonely, empty of life that once was there. like his song "the house where nobody lives". TW is truly deeply poetic. Kenneth Slessor or Les Murray would be proud of this song.
    David63on November 13, 2015   Link
  • -1
    General CommentI've always considered this song a fictional interpretation of the depression that follows when an addict gives up his drug of choice. That feeling of "So much for having fun in life. It's all boring from here on." Since the release date roughly coincides with Tom's own shift from bourbon-soaked crooner to sober carnie-howler, I feel this is one of his more autobiographical songs.
    ovidheadon March 22, 2006   Link
  • -1
    General CommentI've always considered this song a fictional interpretation of the depression that follows when an addict gives up his drug of choice. That feeling of "So much for having fun in life. It's all boring from here on." Since the release date roughly coincides with Tom's own shift from bourbon-soaked crooner to sober carnie-howler, I feel this is one of his more autobiographical songs.
    ovidheadon March 22, 2006   Link

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