Song Lyric Sunday: Jockey Full of Bourbon

The theme from Jim Adams is Bomb, Gun, Knife, or Weapon.
The song must contain a reference to the prompt in the title or the lyrics.
If the song does not meet these criteria, please explain why you chose it.


Here’s Tom Waits growling his way through Jockey Full of Bourbon. The song is from his 1985 album, Rain Dogs, which is about “the urban dispossessed” of New York City. And today’s choice is a sweet tale of a man who drinks too much one night and does some incredibly dumb things. And all to a swinging mambo rhythm!

The whole song is a smorgasbord of surrealness with the chorus adapted from an old nursery rhyme: Ladybird, Ladybird Fly Away Home, references to stepping on the devil’s tail, and flamingoes drinking from cocktail glasses.

And, here’s something I didn’t know, jockey is American slang for a cab or bus driver. And if he/she/it is full of hard liquor, let’s hope the silly arse doesn’t go for a drive. This just begs the question, who on earth is Edna Million and can she play a stazybo horn?

Edna Million in a drop-dead suit
Dutch Pink on a downtown train
Two dollar pistol but the gun won’t shoot
I’m in the corner on the pouring rain
Sixteen men on a deadman’s chest
And I’ve been drinking from a broken cup
Two pairs of pants and a mohair vest
I’m full of bourbon, I can’t stand up

Hey little bird, fly away home
Your house is on fire, your children are alone
Hey little bird, fly away home
Your house is on fire, your children are alone

Schiffer broke a bottle on Morgan’s head
And I’ve been stepping on the devil’s tail
Across the stripes of a full moon’s head
Through the bars of a Cuban jail
Bloody fingers on a purple knife
A flamingo drinking from a cocktail glass
I’m on the lawn with someone else’s wife
Come admire the view from up on top of the mast

Hey little bird, fly away home
Your house is on fire, your children are alone
Hey little bird, fly away home
Your house is on fire, your children are alone

I said, hey little bird, fly away home
Your house is on fire, your children are alone
Hey little bird, fly away home
House is on fire, your children are alone

Yellow sheets in a Hong Kong bed
Stazybo horn and a Slingerland ride
To the carnival is what she said
A hundred dollars makes it dark inside

Edna Million in a drop-dead suit
Dutch Pink on a downtown train
Two dollar pistol but the gun won’t shoot
I’m in the corner on the pouring rain

Hey little bird, fly away home
Your house is on fire, your children are alone
Hey little bird, fly away home
Your house is on fire, your children are alone

Songwriter(s): Thomas Alan Waits
© UMG (on behalf of Island Records)

2 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday: Jockey Full of Bourbon

Comments are closed.