Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen) Lyrics

Wasted and wounded, it ain't what the moon did
I got what I paid for now
See you 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 Stacy's are soaking wet to go
Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
You'll go waltzing Matilda with me

Now the dogs are barking
And the taxi cabs 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 Bushmill's, 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 one-armed bandit knows
And the maverick Chinamen and the cold-blooded signs
And the girls down by the striptease 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
Song Info
Copyright
Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC
Submitted by
Submitted on
Dec 27, 2001
40 Meanings
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I 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.

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Tom 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.

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I 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?

I agree with most of your analysis, but i just have one bone to pick. Its likely he IS saying Stacy's, a reference to the famous dress shoes. At the time the song was written these shoes were more well known, and owning a pair was a sign of prestige. What he is saying there is that he is so wasted and depressed that he could care less about ruining his expensive shoes.

"Stacy's" is a reference to shoes made by Stacy Adams that were extremely popular in the 70s and early 80s. Everyone who had a pair referred to them as "my Stacy's". I personally thought they were the most uncomfortable damn shoes I ever wore in my life--all form, no function. I paid about$60 for them (almost a week's pay for a 17 year-old on his own in '78), wore them maybe 6 times and gave them to a guy in my building. Haven't given a crap about fashion trends since.

Nice interpretation. One thing: Staceys were famous for their high class shoes - not braces. I dont think it would matter if you got your braces wet but your shoes...?

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"I lost my Saint Christopher now that I've kissed her"

One of my favourite lines ever.

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It'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.

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Oh, and stephoney13, Four Sheets to the Wind is slang for being very, very drunk. Nothing to do with boats.

Song Meaning

daveydk FYI

en.wiktionary.org/wiki/four_sheets_to_the_wind

Etymology[edit] Derived from sailing ships. The 'sheet' in the phrase uses the nautical meaning of a rope that controls the trim of sail. If a sheet is loose, the sail flaps and doesn't provide control for the ship. Having several sheets loose ("to the wind") could cause the ship to rock about drunkenly. Adjective[edit] four sheets to the wind (not comparable) (idiomatic) Extremely drunk  [quotations ▼] Synonyms[edit] three sheets to the wind

@daveydk its both. When your sailing ship is four sheets to the wind you\'ve been so preoccupied with other things that your sails are All over the place; the ship is in danger of foundering. Being very drunk means you\'ve lost your capacity for self navigation and disaster may soon follow.

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just my favourite song ever

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i think it was written about a drunken evening that tom spent with danish folk-singer Mathilde Bondo after a performance in copanhagen. its definately not about his wife kathleen as they only met a few years later when he was working on the soundtrack for 'One From The Heart'

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Tom 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.

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Just beautiful. It's appearence in the movie "Basquiat" is one of the best song/movie moments ever.

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