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Lyr Req: On the Nickel (Tom Waits)

12 Sep 03 - 05:45 PM (#1017832)
Subject: Tom Waits' 'On the Nickel
From: GUEST,mrbisok@aol.com

After ten years, I heard it again on the radio. A wonderful view of chaos. And the variations in voice are just astounding.
WHAT THE HECK IS THE SONG ABOUT? "On the Nickel" -- nickel bags of drugs? How about this line: "what's become of the little boys,


12 Sep 03 - 07:01 PM (#1017869)
Subject: ADD: On the Nickel (Tom Waits)
From: wysiwyg

I dunno about the nickel part (ask Blake Madison), but for little boys... IMO that part is just about all the little boys who start out so cute and happy, and all the little boys who don't, that wind up hanging out on the corner.

Here's the whole lyric.

~Susan

ON THE NICKEL
As recorded by Tom Waits on the album "Heartattack And Vine"


sticks and stones will break my bones
but I always will be true
and when your mama is dead and gone
I'll sing this lullabye just for you
and what becomes of all the little boys
who never comb their hair
well they're lined up all around the block
on the nickel over there

so you better bring a bucket
there is a hole in the pail
and if you don't get my letter
then you'll know that I'm in jail
and what becomes of all the little boys
who never say their prayers
well they're sleepin' like a baby
on the nickel over there

and if you chew tobacco and wish upon a star
well you'll find out where the scarecrows sit
just like punchlines between the cars
and I know a place where a royal flush
can never beat a pair and even Thomas Jefferson
is on the nickel over there

so ring around the rosie, you're sleepin' in the rain
and you're always late for supper
and man you let me down, let me down again
I thought I heard a mockingbird, Roosevelt knows where
you can skip the light with grady tuck
on the nickel over there

so what becomes of all the little boys
who run away from home
well the world just keeps gettin' bigger
once you get out on your own
so here's to all the little boys
the sandman takes you where
you'll be sleepin' with a pillowman
on the nickel over there

so let's climb up through that button hole
and we'll fall right up the stairs
and I'll show you where the short dogs grow
on the nickel over there


12 Sep 03 - 07:16 PM (#1017880)
Subject: RE: Tom Waits' 'On the Nickel
From: GUEST,mrbisok@aol.com

Susan--
Thank you for the lyrics. I didn't dare ask, and then there they were.
-- Harold


12 Sep 03 - 07:27 PM (#1017892)
Subject: RE: Tom Waits' 'On the Nickel
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Waits sings the song as the intro and finis to the movie, "On the Nickel," which involves an alcoholic and skid row.


12 Sep 03 - 10:20 PM (#1017950)
Subject: RE: Tom Waits' 'On the Nickel
From: wysiwyg

You're quite welcome, H. We like lyrics around here!

I got them HERE. Lotsa Waits there; I had just been there a few days ago and saved a text copy.

The general policy here is that if a lyric is of interest, we go ahead and post it as well as a link to the source. The idea is that Mudcat has been around for a long time and has a pretty solid track record. It's likely to remain up and available long after other sites fold. So we put things here, against the day they are no longer available anywhere else. I found a lot of pretty odd and obscure things I was looking for this week, amazingly already posted here by members. So I was just taking my turn restocking the cupboard. :~)

I hope you will join us and take part similarly.

~Susan


13 Sep 03 - 11:35 AM (#1018144)
Subject: RE: Tom Waits' 'On the Nickel
From: Gern

It seems I heard Waits saying in an interview somewhere that this all concerned the threatened closing of an orphanage somewhere. This recollection is vague, but might explain all the childhood images and Waits' own exceptionally emotional vocals. Anyone know anything about this?


13 Sep 03 - 01:21 PM (#1018182)
Subject: RE: Tom Waits' 'On the Nickel
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

A 'nickel' is a person who is so far out of it that their contribution is worth only a nickel. A worthless person.

'On the Nickel' seems to be a slight twist on this; to apply to an alcoholic on the skids. At least that is what I gathered from the movie. One of those out flicks that come back to haunt you. (Never make the Oscars)

A 'nickel' is also a five-year prison term. There are other meanings as well. I don't know if it still applies to drugs; a 'dime-bag' seems to be the cheapest. In combination words, a 'nickel deck' is heroin (dunno how this name was arrived at).


13 Sep 03 - 01:28 PM (#1018189)
Subject: RE: Tom Waits' 'On the Nickel
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

"On the Nickel" may still be at some VHS outlets, usually in the remainder bin. An old movie, several years old. Worth searching for.


06 Apr 08 - 10:05 AM (#2308218)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: On the Nickel (Tom Waits)
From: GUEST

The NIckel refers to 5th street in Los Angeles. Many homeless alcoholics live there....on the nickel.
Tom Waits refered to the song as a "hobo's lullaby."


07 Apr 08 - 08:30 AM (#2308970)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: On the Nickel (Tom Waits)
From: Rain Dog

For information on Tom Waits and his work you would do well to check out

The Tom Waits Library

You can read what it has to say about this particular song her

On The Nickel


18 Feb 09 - 10:14 AM (#2569988)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: On the Nickel (Tom Waits)
From: GUEST,On The Nickel

"I'd like to do a new song here. This is eh, it's about downtown Los Angeles on 5th Street. And eh all the winos affectionately refer to it as The Nickel. So this is kind of a hobo's lullaby." Tom Waits

Reference made Tom Himself