He was sitting in the lounge of the Empire Hotel
He was drinking for diversion
He was thinking for himself
A little money riding on the Maple Leafs
Along comes a lady in lacy sleeves
She says let me sit down
You know, drinkin' alone's a shame (It's a shame it's a crying shame)
Look at those jokers
Glued to that damn hockey game
Hey honey-you've got lots of cash
Bring us round a bottle
And we'll have some laughs
Gin's what I'm drinking
I was raised on robbery

I'm a pretty good cook
Sitting on my groceries
Come up to my kitchen
I'll show you my best recipe
I try and I try but I can't save a cent
I'm up after midnight, cooking
Trying to make my rent
I'm rough but I'm pleasin'
I was raised on robbery

We had a little money once
They were pushing through a four lane highway
Government gave us three thousand dollars
You should have seen it fly away
First he bought a '57 Biscayne
He put it in the ditch
He drunk up all the rest
That son of a bitch
His blood's bad whiskey
I was raised on robbery

You know you ain't bad looking
I like the way you hold your drinks
Come home with me, honey
I ain't asking for no full length mink
Hey, where you going
Don't go yet
Your glass ain't empty and we just met
You're mean when your loaded
I was raised on robbery


Lyrics submitted by ruben, edited by ThomasC

Raised On Robbery Lyrics as written by Joni Mitchell

Lyrics © Royalty Network, Reservoir Media Management, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Raised On Robbery song meanings
Add Your Thoughts

11 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +1
    General Comment

    This is definitely my favourite song by Joni Mitchell. I just have one question. Is the woman in the song a prostitue? I am inclined to believe so.

    Broken_Arrowon February 13, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    "i'm sitting on my groceries" = she's a prostitute :)

    chelseamorningon August 31, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    It seems to me that she had a troubled childhood with an alcoholic father. Now that she's grown up, she has a daddy complex and hovers around the bars looking to pick up guys drinking alone. She probably does this professionally. Only problem being that she's very pushy, which is why the guy walks away from her in the end. He's just trying to drink and maybe get laid, and here she comes talking about what a crappy cook she is and that she wants to take him home with her about 2 minutes after they met. Dude don't need syphilis. As for the robbery thing, maybe she's planning on robbing him after they're done in the sack.

    tv316on February 07, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    "I'm a pretty good cook, I'm sitting on my groceries."
    "Come up to my kitchen and I'll show you my best recipe" "I'm up after midnight cooking, trying to make my rent" All of these things indicate that she's a prostitute. I think she had been married until her husband crashed their car and drank the rest of their money they got from the government putting through a highway where their house was. She was pretty pushy and also insulted him right from the start "look at all those jokers glued to that damn hockey game" which he was watching when she walked up. I think he just wanted to be alone with his hockey game and in the end gets tired of her and walks off.

    Kellie728on August 15, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Sounds like it I mean if she was raised on robbery than that's most likely implying that she is a prostitute.

    floydian18on June 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Just bought "Court and Spark" today! First time i listened to it, this song really stuck! It's upbeat, catchy and the lyrics are really cheeky. I'd say the woman is a prostitute, who got money when they government bought her house, to build a highway over it, her then boyfriend wasted all the money and left, so she turned to prostitution, sounds sad really but the sond is delivered in a really funny way! GO JONI!

    Wunderkind92on July 08, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Clearly she is a prostitute. Anyone have any ideas about the line "raised on robbery"? Is it meant to imply she feels she is getting something (cash) for nothing (prostitution) or stealing something from others (or herself)? [Like trading your body is no big deal.] Or is it more blatant in that she steals from johns?

    I'm sure there are several interpretations of this specifically. Just curious if anyone has any...

    princejonion October 31, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Clearly she is a prostitute. Anyone have any ideas about the line "raised on robbery"? Is it meant to imply she feels she is getting something (cash) for nothing (prostitution) or stealing something from others (or herself)? [Like trading your body is no big deal.] Or is it more blatant in that she steals from johns?

    I'm sure there are several interpretations of this specifically. Just curious if anyone has any...

    princejonion October 31, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Clearly she is a prostitute. Anyone have any ideas about the line "raised on robbery"? Is it meant to imply she feels she is getting something (cash) for nothing (prostitution) or stealing something from others (or herself)? [Like trading your body is no big deal.] Or is it more blatant in that she steals from johns?

    I'm sure there are several interpretations of this specifically. Just curious if anyone has any...

    princejonion October 31, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Everyone always assumes that the woman in the song is a prostitute. But I just think she's lonely and not very bright. Would a hotel hooker really be so clueless as to try to seduce a gambler invested in the Maple Leafs by insulting the "jokers" who are watching the game?

    SladeBarkeron April 09, 2023   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!

More Featured Meanings

Album art
The Night We Met
Lord Huron
This is a hauntingly beautiful song about introspection, specifically about looking back at a relationship that started bad and ended so poorly, that the narrator wants to go back to the very beginning and tell himself to not even travel down that road. I believe that the relationship started poorly because of the lines: "Take me back to the night we met:When the night was full of terrors: And your eyes were filled with tears: When you had not touched me yet" So, the first night was not a great start, but the narrator pursued the relationship and eventually both overcame the rough start to fall in love with each other: "I had all and then most of you" Like many relationships that turn sour, it was not a quick decline, but a gradual one where the narrator and their partner fall out of love and gradually grow apart "Some and now none of you" Losing someone who was once everything in your world, who you could confide in, tell your secrets to, share all the most intimate parts of your life, to being strangers with that person is probably one of the most painful experiences a person can go through. So Painful, the narrator wants to go back in time and tell himself to not even pursue the relationship. This was the perfect song for "13 Reasons Why"
Album art
Dreamwalker
Silent Planet
I think much like another song “Anti-Matter” (that's also on the same album as this song), this one is also is inspired by a horrifying van crash the band experienced on Nov 3, 2022. This, much like the other track, sounds like it's an extension what they shared while huddled in the wreckage, as they helped frontman Garrett Russell stem the bleeding from his head wound while he was under the temporary effects of a concussion. The track speaks of where the mind goes at the most desperate & desolate of times, when it just about slips away to all but disconnect itself, and the aftermath.
Album art
No Surprises
Radiohead
Same ideas expressed in Fitter, Happier are expressed in this song. We're told to strive for some sort of ideal life, which includes getting a good job, being kind to everyone, finding a partner, getting married, having a couple kids, living in a quiet neighborhood in a nice big house, etc. But in Fitter, Happier the narrator(?) realizes that it's incredibly robotic to live this life. People are being used by those in power "like a pig in a cage on antibiotics"--being pacified with things like new phones and cool gadgets and houses while being sucked dry. On No Surprises, the narrator is realizing how this life is killing him slowly. In the video, his helmet is slowly filling up with water, drowning him. But he's so complacent with it. This is a good summary of the song. This boring, "perfect" life foisted upon us by some higher powers (not spiritual, but political, economic, etc. politicians and businessmen, perhaps) is not the way to live. But there is seemingly no way out but death. He'd rather die peacefully right now than live in this cage. While our lives are often shielded, we're in our own protective bubbles, or protective helmets like the one Thom wears, if we look a little harder we can see all the corruption, lies, manipulation, etc. that is going on in the world, often run by huge yet nearly invisible organizations, corporations, and 'leaders'. It's a very hopeless song because it reflects real life.
Album art
Blue
Ed Sheeran
“Blue” is a song about a love that is persisting in the discomfort of the person experiencing the emotion. Ed Sheeran reflects on love lost, and although he wishes his former partner find happiness, he cannot but admit his feelings are still very much there. He expresses the realization that he might never find another on this stringed instrumental by Aaron Dessner.
Album art
Punchline
Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran sings about missing his former partner and learning important life lessons in the process on “Punchline.” This track tells a story of battling to get rid of emotions for a former lover, whom he now realized might not have loved him the same way. He’s now caught between accepting that fact and learning life lessons from it and going back to beg her for another chance.