Say a word for Jimmy Brown
He ain't got nothing at all
Not the shirt right off his back
He ain't got nothing at all
And say a word for Ginger Brown
Walks with his head down to the ground
Took the shoes right off his feet
Threw the poor boy right out in the street
And this is what he said

Oh, sweet nothin'
She ain't got nothin' at all
Oh, sweet nothin'
She ain't got nothin' at all

Say a word for Pearly May
She can't tell the night from the day
They threw her out in the street
But just like a cat, she landed on her feet
And say a word for Joana Love
She ain't got nothing at all
'Cause everyday she falls in love
And every night she falls
And when she does, she says

Oh, sweet nothin'
You know she he ain't got nothing at all, whoa-whoa
Oh, sweet nothin', yeah
She ain't got nothin' at all
Oh, let me hear you

Oh, say a word (oh, sweet nothin')
Say a word for Jimmy Brown
He ain't got nothin' at all, not a thing
Not the shirt, shirt on his back (oh, sweet nothin')
No, he ain't got nothing at all
And say a word for Ginger (oh, sweet nothin')
He walks (he ain't got nothin' at all)
With his head down to the ground
They took the shoes (oh, sweet nothin')
Took the shoes from his feet, from his feet
And threw poor boy (he ain't got nothin' at all)
Out into the street, and then he said

Oh, sweet, sweet nothin'
She ain't got, she ain't got
She ain't got nothin' at all
Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet nothin'
(Ain't got nothing at all) she ain't got
Sweet, sweet nothin' (oh, sweet nothin')
Sweet, sweet nothin' (she ain't got nothin' at all)
Uh, sweet, sweet nothin, got nothin'
Oh, sweet nothin', whoa
(Ain't got nothin' at all) sweet nothin' at all
Oh, let me hear ya

She ain't got nothin' at all
She ain't got nothin' at all
She ain't got nothin' at all
She ain't got nothin' at all
She ain't got nothin' at all, sweet nothin'
Ain't got nothin' at all, sweet, sweet nothin'
She ain't got nothin' at all


Lyrics submitted by capitol76, edited by Radiated, zeeper25

Oh! Sweet Nuthin' Lyrics as written by Lou Reed

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Oh! Sweet Nuthin song meanings
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33 Comments

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  • +4
    General Comment

    One of the truly rare true blues songs by a white man.

    muldrakeon September 17, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    I agree with you, jellybones. It's about being ok with having nothing. When you have nothing you're free. And if you can be happy or satisfied with nothing it's true happiness because it isn't based on temporary conditions.

    thebodiesobtainedon April 18, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    I just found a great song interpretation by Mark Toscano and David Steinberg (phish.net/song/oh-sweet-nuthin/history): "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" is the final song off of Loaded, the last real Velvet Underground album. It tells the stories of the disaffected, the poor Jimmy Brown, the homeless and depressed Ginger Brown, his fellow street person Polly May, and poor Joanna Love who finds herself in an endless stream of failed relationships. Between that and the chorus of, "Oh, sweet nuthin'/She ain't got nothing' at all," you'd think this was a miserable song, one to listen to when you're looking for that last bit of motivation to slash your wrists. That would be the easy approach. Rather, "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" is incredibly life affirming, especially in the end section where drummer Doug Yule – filling in for Moe Tucker who was on maternity leave – suddenly kicks the whole jam into overdrive. The guitars soar and the drumming continues to pound and it builds until it finally resolves to a reprise of, "She ain't got nothing at all," which suddenly feels like a reward instead of a lament. Who says that you can't make something out of nothing? [...]"

    dadaiston December 24, 2016   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    do you hear that guitar?? there is heartbreak flowein through his fingers! and if they've got oh sweet nothin, at least they can play some oh sweet music...amazing song.

    ELECTRIKaveon August 28, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    i love the simple chords, and the melody is just amazing - especially the solo. lou reed is an underated gutarist, he doesnt need to play extremely fast like page and clapton were doin at the time, he plays with such a sweet tone. with respect to page and clapton of course.

    RambleOnon July 15, 2008   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretation

    Obviously it's about poverty and homelessness; the reasons for the poverty and homelessness are left to the imagination. Yes, there were a lot of young people drifting around in the sixties, and a lot of drugs; but it was also standard practice in the sixties for parents to disown their gay kids, and their unwed pregnant daughters, and just kick them out of the house before they were even of age. In any case, it's a very sad song about people in need, and to say that it's about having nothing and "being okay with it" is, imo, to trivialize their suffering.

    rosalyreon November 02, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Great song, love it.

    Just thought I'd post to say that the guitar solo is actually played by Doug Yule.

    On this track, Lou and Doug play guitars, while Sterling Morrison plays bass.

    leamancon April 27, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    i also agree thebodiesobtained, but i wouldn't call it true happiness. the song's bittersweet, like the title, having nothing can be sweet because you are completely free but it is still depressing to just have nothing. to me the song sounds depressing in general, but there's something oddly sweet sounding in the little guitar solo, no?

    browsacookiemonstaon January 31, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I think immediately discrediting the people who said this song might have to do w/ heroine is silly. However let me finish, Its definatly not completely about drugs... but what better way to get to a place of sweet nothing than dope... I think that the overall tone of this song is bittersweet contentedness knowing you have nothing but not really being worried about it. I just think with peoples inside knowledge of how Lou reed was using in the 80's it would be dumb to completely ignore that influence.

    Enlightenon November 09, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation

    I think the song is about the young people that took to the cities abandoning there quaint home lives to create a life amongst the counter cultures. Oftentimes these lifestyles although edgy and lucrative left these people with nothing but there names and experiences associated with there names which is why i think first and last names are used. These people have given all they have and still remain beautiful. I think that the song touches on religion too but he is almost saying i wont pray myself but if your going to do it for these people.

    bijoumoonon February 15, 2010   Link

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