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Big Black Mariah
Tom Waits Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

Well, cutting through the cane break, rattling the sill
Thunder that the rain makes when the shadow tops the hill
Big light on the back street, hill to ever more
Packing down the ladder with the hammer to the floor
Here come the Big Black Mariah, here come the Big Black Mariah
Here come the Big Black Mariah, I seen the big black Ford

Well, he's all boxed up on a red belle dame
Hunted Black Johnny with a blind man's cane
A yellow bullet with a rag out in the wind
An old blind tiger, got an old bell Jim
Here come the Big Black Mariah, here come the Big Black Mariah
Here come the Big Black Mariah, here come the big black Ford

Sent to the skies on a Benny Jag Blue
Off to bed without his supper like a Linda bride do
He got to do the story with the old widow Jones
Got a wooden coat, this boy is never coming home
Here come the Big Black Mariah, here come the Big Black Mariah
Here come the Big Black Mariah, I seen that big black Ford
Cut through the canebrake, oh yeah

Well, he's all boxed up on a red belle dame
Flat Blue Johnny with a blind man's cane
A hundred yellow bullets shook a rag out in the wind
An old blind tiger, on a bell you win
Here come the Big Black Mariah, here come the Big Black Mariah
Here come the Big Black Mariah, here come the big black Ford

Overall Meaning

The lyrics of Tom Waits's song "Big Black Mariah" are somewhat cryptic and open to interpretation. It seems to be a tale of some sort of ominous authority figure arriving in town, possibly to take someone away. The opening lines suggest a stormy, foreboding atmosphere, with thunder rolling and the sound of someone approaching in a large vehicle. The phrase "Big Black Mariah" is a slang term for a police wagon, which fits with the idea of someone being taken into custody.


The following verses introduce various characters, including someone named Black Johnny and a blind man. The lines "Off to bed without his supper like a Linda bride do / He got to do the story with the old widow Jones" suggest the idea of someone being punished or sent away for wrongdoing. The repeated refrain of "Here come the Big Black Mariah" builds tension and adds to the sense of impending doom.


Overall, the lyrics of "Big Black Mariah" paint a picture of a gritty, noir-ish world full of shady characters, violent weather, and a looming sense of reckoning or justice. The song's meaning is somewhat elusive, but its atmosphere and evocative imagery make for a memorable listening experience.


Line by Line Meaning

Well, cutting through the cane break, rattling the sill
The Big Black Mariah is making its way through the thick and dense brush and shaking things up as it advances.


Thunder that the rain makes when the shadow tops the hill
The loud and ominous sound that the Mariah creates sounds like thunder and is heard when it rises above the top of the hill.


Big light on the back street, hill to ever more
There's a big light show in the back street, and it continues on up the hill.


Packing down the ladder with the hammer to the floor
They're packing up with the ladder and slamming it down on the ground, most likely in preparation for activity by the Mariah.


Here come the Big Black Mariah, here come the Big Black Mariah Here come the Big Black Mariah, I seen the big black Ford
The Mariah is finally arriving, and the big black Ford that drives it is in sight.


Well, he's all boxed up on a red belle dame Hunted Black Johnny with a blind man's cane A yellow bullet with a rag out in the wind An old blind tiger, got an old bell Jim
The Mariah has someone in it who's boxed up, caught Black Johnny with a cane, and has a yellow bullet and a tiger who can't see but has an old bell named Jim.


Sent to the skies on a Benny Jag Blue Off to bed without his supper like a Linda bride do He got to do the story with the old widow Jones Got a wooden coat, this boy is never coming home
They've sent someone named Benny Jag Blue up to the skies, and he's gone to bed without supper like a Linda bride would. He has to do a story with an old widow named Jones and he will never return because he's been given a wooden coat, which implies he's been killed.


Well, he's all boxed up on a red belle dame Flat Blue Johnny with a blind man's cane A hundred yellow bullets shook a rag out in the wind An old blind tiger, on a bell you win Here come the Big Black Mariah, here come the Big Black Mariah Here come the Big Black Mariah, here come the big black Ford
The Mariah is still transporting the boxed up person on a red belle dame, and it has Flat Blue Johnny with it who uses a blind man's cane. They're also carrying a hundred yellow bullets and an old blind tiger with a winning bell. The Mariah and the big black Ford driving it are still here and coming.




Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, JALMA MUSIC
Written by: THOMAS ALAN WAITS

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Most interesting comments from YouTube:

@nicholaskinsey5160

Well, cutting through the cane break, rattling the sill
Thunder that the rain makes when the shadow tops the hill
Big light on the back street, hill to ever more
Packing down the ladder with the hammer to the floor
Here come the Big Black Mariah, here come the Big Black Mariah
Here come the Big Black Mariah, I seen the big black Ford

Well, he's all boxed up on a red belle dame
Hunted Black Johnny with a blind man's cane
A yellow bullet with a rag out in the wind
An old blind tiger, got an old bell Jim
Here come the Big Black Mariah, here come the Big Black Mariah
Here come the Big Black Mariah, here come the big black Ford

Sent to the skies on a Benny Jag Blue
Off to bed without his supper like a Linda bride do
He got to do the story with the old widow Jones
Got a wooden coat, this boy is never coming home
Here come the Big Black Mariah, here come the Big Black Mariah
Here come the Big Black Mariah, I seen that big black Ford
Cut through the canebrake, oh yeah

Well, he's all boxed up on a red belle dame
Flat Blue Johnny with a blind man's cane
A hundred yellow bullets shook a rag out in the wind
An old blind tiger, on a bell you win
Here come the Big Black Mariah, here come the Big Black Mariah
Here come the Big Black Mariah, here come the big black Ford



@Tsureiki

These are the correct lyrics

Cuttin' through the cane break, rattling the sill
Thunder that the rain makes when the shadow tops the hill
Big light on the back street hill to Evermore
Packin' down the ladder with the hammer to the floor

Here comes the Big Black Mariah
Here comes the Big Black Mariah
Here comes the Big Black Mariah
I see the Big Black Ford

Well he's all boxed up on a red belle dame
Hunted Black Johnny with a blind man's cane
A yellow bullet with a rag out in the wind
An old blind tiger get an old bell, Jim

Here comes the Big Black Mariah
Here comes the Big Black Mariah
Here comes the Big Black Mariah
Here comes the Big Black Ford

Sent to the skies on a Benny Jag Blue
Off to bed without his supper like the Linda brides do
Now he's got to do the story with the old widow Jones
He's got a wooden coat, this boy is never coming home

Here comes the Big Black Mariah
Here comes the Big Black Mariah
Here comes the Big Black Mariah
I see that Big Black Ford
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Cut through the cane break...

Well he's all boxed up on a red belle dame
Fat Blue Johnny on a blind man's cane
A hundred yellow bullets shook a rag out in the wind
An old blind tiger on a pair of new wings

Here comes the Big Black Mariah
Here comes the Big Black Mariah
Here comes the Big Black Mariah
Here comes the Big Black Ford



All comments from YouTube:

@BloodyDeeJay

Cooler than the other side of the pillow man

@JM-io6966bili

Tom and Keith
Good Combination.

@tahoedharmabum

...if you ain't feelin' this in your hips i'm afraid your mojo ain't workin' squidlips...

@wackostvshow1509

THE FIRST TRACK WE HAVE HEARD of TOM WAITS ! .... INSANELY AWESOME ! .....................

@BOWMANTUNES

That’s a great way to start!

@benzell4

So much good, out there!...

@luischavez8722

I am here from Tires!

@HarleyForMayor

Rain dogs was the first album of Tom's I discovered. still can't believe this came out in 1985!

@T-bit

Would love to hear this in the pub 🍻

@dainasworldnumbers88

GReat Song!

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