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I've seen it all boys
I've been all over
Been everywhere in the
Whole wide world
I rode the high line
With old blind Darby
I danced real slow
With Ida Jane

I was full of wonder
When I left Murfreesboro
Now I am full of hollow
On Maxwell street...
And I hope my Pony
I hope my Pony
I hope my Pony
Knows the way back home

I walked from Natcher
To Hushpukena
I built a fire by the side
Of the road
I worked for nothin in a
Belzoni saw mill. I caught a
Blind out on the B and O
Talullah's friendly Belzoni ain't so
A 44'll get you 99

And I hope my Pony
I hope my Pony
I hope my Pony
Knows the way back home

I run my race with burnt face Jake
Gave him a Manzanita cross
I lived on nothin
But dreams and train smoke
Somehow my watch and chain
Got lost.
I wish I was home in Evelyn's Kitchen
With old Gyp curled around my feet
(Chorus)


Lyrics submitted by archmastermind

Pony song meanings
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17 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentJust a few points about the placenames here....

    This hobo's narrative begins in Murfreesboro, TN, which the narrator leaves to go see the world by bumming around and riding the rails (a recurring theme in Waits's work).

    At the time when he tells this tale, he has ended up on Maxwell Street in Chicago, world-weary and without a penny to his name.

    He describes his time bumming around Mississippi, when he once walked the 200 miles from Natchez to Hushpukina, and later ended up working in a sawmill in Belzoni -- where he reports he never received his wages.

    Something happened in Belzoni (perhaps a confrontation with the mill owner who wouldn't pay him) and he had to "catch a blind out on the B&O", which means jumping a freight train owned by the Baltimore and Ohio line, standing on the linkage between the coal car and the adjoining freight car, a position which could not be seen by the engineer because the coal car blocks the view. It was a rough way to ride, but not as bad as "riding the rods" which was even more dangerous.

    Presumably, the narrator shot someone and faced a charge of life in prison, thus "a .44 will get you 99". That's why he escapes to Talullah, a town in Louisiana, outside of the Mississippi state jurisdiction.

    By the time he ends up in Chicago, telling his tale to the "boys" in the flop-house or out on the street, his days of slow-dancing with Ida Jane and sitting in Evelyn's warm kitchen with a hot cup of coffee and the dog lying on his feet are long gone dreams of his youth.

    The lines of the chorus are ironic... he has no pony, he has no home, and the life he knew back in Tennessee is gone, never to be recaptured.

    But the desire is still there. Now more than ever, in fact. Now he knows what he lost, what he threw away.

    Maybe it was all worth it, but it sure is hard to think that when you're old and down on your luck in the market district of Chicago, spinning your tales of jumping trains with Blind Darby and Burned Face Jake.

    You just hope that somehow, some way, you can make it back. That some force will sweep you up and carry you there, and you'll find yourself again in the arms of your childhood sweetheart, and someone will see you and know you and invite you in and the dog will be happy that you've returned and curl up next to you and fall asleep as you talk into the night, and there'll be a bed waiting for you, with clean sheets to sleep on, and clean water to wash in the next morning.

    I hope my pony
    knows the way
    back home.
    Lazloon July 02, 2012   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation[I agree with some of your thoughts dogbox, but think you're a little off on some others.]

    I've seen it all boys
    I've been all over
    Been everywhere in the
    Whole wide world
    I rode the high line
    With old blind Darby
    I danced real slow
    With Ida Jane

    [Agree that this is a man looking back on his life. Strikes the tone of an older man about to give advice to a younger person that reminds him of himself in his own younger days.]

    I was full of wonder
    When I left Murfreesboro
    Now I am full of hollow
    On Maxwell street...

    [I disagree this is about him being shot. I think he's saying when he left home he was full of hopes and dreams, but know he's empty inside, hopeless and forlorn.]

    And I hope my Pony
    I hope my Pony
    I hope my Pony
    Knows the way back home

    [This to me is another way of saying you can't ever go home again. He wants to return to those innocent days of his youth, but he's done and seen so many bad things he doesn't know how to get his innocence back. I see the pony as giving himself up to fate or God. He hopes that they'll be able to somehow lead him to a place where he'll be able to live like he imagined life would be like in his youth]

    I walked from Natcher
    To Hushpukena
    I built a fire by the side
    Of the road
    I worked for nothin in a
    Belzoni saw mill. I caught a
    Blind out on the B and O
    Talullah's friendly Belzoni ain't so
    A 44'll get you 99

    [I agree that the last line means a 44 magnum will get you 99 years in jail. I disagree that it was necessarily over a love triangle. I think this verse is about his life after leaving home. He roughed it a little bit, then ended up getting a job at a sawmill. Whether the towns name or the sawmills owners name was Belzoni I don't know. Either way they ended up ripping him off. He then committed some sort of crime involving a 44 magnum. My guess would be killing the Saw Mill owner or manager. He then hopped the B and O railroad out of town.]

    (chorus)

    I run my race with burnt face Jake
    Gave him a Manzanita cross
    I lived on nothin
    But dreams and train smoke
    Somehow my watch and chain
    Got lost.
    I wish I was home in Evelyn's Kitchen
    With old Gyp curled around my feet

    [He went on the run with another guy named burnt face Jake who died along the way. No details how, but he buried him and made a cross for his grave out of a Manzanita evergreen. At this point his life was spent constantly on the run. I think the pocket watch is an allusion to his life (time) and that he feels he "lost" or "wasted" it. Evelyn's kitchen and Gyp are warm memories of his youth and he wishes he could feel that way again.]

    (Chorus)
    MusicToEaton August 23, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentme, luffster.

    ...unless that was a rhetorical question. :eek3:
    typoon May 02, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song speaks beyond your capacity to understand, luffster, quite simply. you can't see the forest for the trees..in fact, you've never even been in the woods alone.
    Dead$yon October 12, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song speaks beyond your capacity to understand, luffster, quite simply. you can't see the forest for the trees..in fact, you've never even been in the woods alone.
    Dead$yon October 12, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentlook kid, put the tom waits away until you do some growing up. You're clearly not mature enough at 15 to appreciate one of the greatest musical genius's of our time. Go back to your taking back sunday and the used or whatever you listen to until you realize it's boring and trite, then give Tom another try. You might be surprised what you find.
    deliriumtriggeron October 19, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentaccording to her profile, she only logged on once: the time this comment was made. you'd think that she only logged on to tell us how much she hated the song. oy.
    pumkinhedon March 13, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthaving checked her profile, she seems to be the standard teen girl. Into the teeny bands, and too young to appreciate what most of us call "real music" (with apologies to blink, who's newish album is supposedly quite adult).
    pumkinhedon March 13, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDead$y, a nod to Ben Folds Five's Philosophy? nice:)
    hazeyjaneon July 09, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBy the way, folks, great song...
    MardyAsson January 18, 2007   Link

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