"Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen)" as written by and Tom Waits....
Wasted and wounded, it ain't what the moon did
I got what I paid for now
See ya tomorrow, hey Frank can I borrow
A couple of bucks from you
To go waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, you'll go waltzing Matilda with me

I'm an innocent victim of a blinded alley
And I'm tired of all these soldiers here
No one speaks English, and everything's broken
And my Stacys are soaking wet
To go waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, you'll go waltzing Matilda with me

Now the dogs are barking
And the taxicabs parking
A lot they can do for me
I begged you to stab me
You tore my shirt open
And I'm down on my knees tonight
Old Bushmills I staggered
You buried the dagger in
Your silhouette window light
To go waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, you'll go waltzing Matilda with me

Now I've lost my St. Christopher
Now that I've kissed her and the
And the one-armed bandit knows
And the maverick Chinaman, and the cold-blooded signs
And the girls down by the strip tease shows go
Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, you'll go waltzing Matilda with me

No, I don't want your sympathy
The fugitives say that the streets aren't for dreaming now
Manslaughter dragnets and the ghosts that sell memories
They want a piece of the action anyhow
Go waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, you'll go waltzing Matilda with me

And you can ask any sailor
And the keys from the jailer
And the old men in wheelchairs know
That Matilda's the defendant, she killed about a hundred
And she follows wherever you may go
Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, you'll go waltzing Matilda with me

And it's a battered old suitcase
To a hotel someplace
And a wound that will never heal
No prima donna, the perfume is on
An old shirt that is stained with blood and whiskey
And goodnight to the street sweepers
The night watchman flame keepers
And goodnight Matilda, too


Lyrics submitted by yuri_sucupira

"Tom Traubert's Blues" as written by Tom Waits

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen) song meanings
Add your thoughts

36 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +5
    General CommentI also love the line "lost my St. Christopher now that I kissed her." St. Christopher is (in the West) the patron saint of travellers. I think what Waits means is that when he kissed "her," his wandering days were over. This makes a nice juxtaposition with the "Waltzing Matilda" theme which is about being a roving bandit of sorts.
    criostoiron April 22, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General CommentTom Waits was in an interview last year (I think) where he explained this song. Whether or not this was an actual explanation or one of those Waits "answers" I can't really know, but essentially this is what he said: a 'Matilda' is the name for a backpack, and hence 'waltzing Matilda' is backpacking. Tom Traubert is the name of (not sure if it's his actual name) one of Waits' friends who spent his time hitchiking across America. Tom Traubert was arrested for some reason (he didn't explain) and lived in jail for some years before eventually dying there. This song is, apparently, written for him.
    You can see it in the song if you look at it again: there are a lot of references things like "innocent victim", "fugitives", "dagger", "bandit", "I don't want your sympathy", "I got what I paid for now", seems like Waits wanted to write Tom Traubert's story from his own perspective.
    Blackmirthon March 15, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI came here for an interpretation of the lyrics and you can't even GET THEM RIGHT.

    Here is what I know for those who want real answers. The biographical background while interesting, is not that relevant.

    A drunk wants to hit the rails (so to speak) so he borrows money
    A waltzing Matilda is a hobo's bag on a stick (she follows wherever you may go)
    justifications and booze bottles (soldier's here)
    No one speaks English and everything's broken
    And my suspenders (STACES, not STACY'S) are soaking wet to go
    cabs and dogs, and stabbing as a dual reference, wanting to die and the "stab" when the booze (Old Bushmill's) hits your throat.

    Lost my St. Christopher (out of luck) now that I've kissed her
    Slot machines (one-armed bandit) drug dealers (maverick Chinamen)
    neon signs (cold-blooded signs) and loose women cannot help.


    No, I don't want your sympathy
    Hobos are not as innocent anymore
    Murder hunts and (ghosts that sell memories?)
    all want you.

    sailors, keys and invalids are not free.
    Matilda (street life) kills.

    And it's a battered old suitcase to a hotel someplace
    And a wound that will never heal
    No prima donna (he means he is a mess here),
    the perfume is on an old shirt that is stained with blood and whiskey
    And goodnight to the street sweepers
    The night watchman flame keepers
    And goodnight, Matilda, too

    That's about it.
    Staces or Braces are suspenders. What does Ghosts who sell memories mean? Antique store or book store people? Or maybe photography studio owners?
    HappyHiramon May 15, 2013   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningOh, and stephoney13, Four Sheets to the Wind is slang for being very, very drunk. Nothing to do with boats.
    daveydkon July 28, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTom Waits mixed a popular Australian song "Waltzing Matilda" with his own original material. The Australian original is about a travelling man (swagman) who stole a sheep (jumbuck) stuffed it in his bag but then was cornered by the farmer who owned the sheep (squatter) and the police (troopers). The swagman jumped into the billabong so he wouldn't get caught alive and his ghost is still there today.

    'Waltzing matilda' means to travel with your swag (where you roll all your stuff up in a fabric or whatever and carry it). Waltz = to travel, matilda = swag.

    Good song, I like the war/fight/hopelessness type theme and sombreness of it.
    taal_19on May 17, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"I lost my Saint Christopher now that I've kissed her"

    One of my favourite lines ever.
    smellystudenton August 17, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's about men who travel the world to get over a woman. A guy is somewhere far from home, out of money and still battling his heartache, and he sees a lot of men like himself.

    One of Waits' greatest songs, i think. His manager at the time cried the first time he read/heard it, and called it the greatest piece of poetry ever written.
    wertoion March 27, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI always assumed this song was about drugs... some of the references are related to morphine/IV drugs. I don't deny the significance of the traveling theme, I just think Tom compared the relationship of the two. He usually has multiple layers to every song...
    superficieson June 13, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI have incredibly strong feeling for this song. One that I thought I knew, until he played it on one night in Edinburgh 2008.
    I think it is partially a song about self destruction, starting perhaps with asking his father for some money (father’s name is Frank) to go ‘waltzing Matilda’ (disappearing, and travelling with just his ‘swagbag’).
    One story goes that ex-military German immigrants used to call their army greatcoats ‘Matilda’, as they gave them the warmth a women could.
    His producer at the time, Bones Howe, has been noted to quote at seminars, as being the most perfect lyric:
    “And it's a battered old suitcase to a hotel someplace
    And a wound that will never heal.”
    An outstandingly powerful line for me is:
    “Now I've lost my St Christopher now that I've kissed her”.
    St Christopher is the patron saint of travellers, and so mirroring the above comments, he was no longer lost (or a ‘raindog’ for that matter – dogs getting lost after a downpour washes away their marked scents). However, it’s believed that St Christopher is also the patron saint of bachelors... Perfect double whammy.
    Ultimately, I think this about absolute heartbreak, and the joy in finding somebody – probably in Copenhagen. Lost and found. It will not be forgotten.
    steveblairon August 24, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI don't think this song is about suicide as previous posters maintain, although it is steeped in melancholia and nostalgia in that beautiful way that Waits does so well. To me it's the tale of a traveling bachelor, wandering the globe and drowning his sorrows trying to forget about the woman he loves who ripped his heart out, but she's with him all the while, in his thoughts, waltzing with him as he threads his way through animated night scenes of foreign cities that accentuate his loneliness.

    Losing his St Christopher doesn't mean that he's finished wandering, only that he goes on traveling but without the protection of the saints. On he goes, remembering Matilda until the last moment of each day - late in the dark when he curls up drunkenly in some dingy hotel, and wishes his lost love good night before drifting off to sleep. Sad and beautiful.
    Darkadianrhythmon November 29, 2012   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