9th & Hennepin
Tom Waits Lyrics

Well, it's Ninth and Hennepin
All the doughnuts have names that sound like prostitutes
And the moon's teeth marks are on the sky
Like a tarp thrown all over this
And the broken umbrellas like dead birds
And the steam comes out of the grill like the whole goddamn town's ready to blow
And the bricks are all scarred with jailhouse tattoos
And everyone is behaving like dogs
And the horses are coming down Violin Road and Dutch is dead on his feet
And all the rooms they smell like diesel
And you take on the dreams of the ones who have slept here
And I'm lost in the window, and I hide in the stairway
And I hang in the curtain, and I sleep in your hat
And no one brings anything small into a bar around here
They all started out with bad directions
And the girl behind the counter has a tattooed tear
One for every year he's away, she said
Such a crumbling beauty
Ah, there's nothing wrong with her that a hundred dollars won't fix
She has that razor sadness that only gets worse
With the clang and the thunder of the Southern Pacific going by
And the clock ticks out like a dripping faucet
Till you're full of rag water and bitters and blue ruin
And you spill out over the side to anyone who will listen
And I've seen it all
I've seen it all through the yellow windows of the evening train

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Comments from YouTube:

Adrian G

It's about Minneapolis, MN, & (call me dark if you feel) - I find this to be one of the most haunting and beautiful poems I've ever heard.

Edward Camp

He said the name was from Minneapolis but the imagery is New York

Super NonFriendo

He's talking about the Saloon! Its like my fav gay bar. <3 <3 <3
Check it out on google maps its been there like forever, above it there used to be a hotel called The Amsterdam, it was a pay by the hour kind of place. I admit I've woken up there before, tiny rooms just beds, bathroom down the hall. The hotel closed down in the past few years, but the Saloon is still going strong. https://www.saloonmn.com/

Bill Smith

A G I recall a story about 9th and Hennepin. The hooker in “postcard from a hooker in Minneapolis” says she lives near 9th and Hennepin, off Euclid avenue above a dirty bookstore.
I always wondered about the geography of the song.

Cap'n Carny

The Pizza Shack. A shooting occurred when Waits was in town at the Pizza Shack, a real dive.
"no one brings anything small into a bar around here"

Alric the Red

Tom Waits has been a fascinating artist for years, and I find it a failure on my part that I haven't really embraced him. Years ago, HBO (I think) had one of his concerts (or maybe it was Netflix), and he became this character. I never stopped thinking about that show. He's been on talk shows performing, but that's really not a place he can be himself (or so it seems to me).

Then someone on Facebook posted a link to one of his songs, and I listened to it, and I read the lyrics. The song was called "Alice," and the lyrics were lonely and forlorn. It was beautiful and poetic, and it made me feel shallow. So over the last couple of weeks, I've been playing a couple of his albums on Amazon Music. Rain Dogs was the first album I chose. This song in particular stuck out because his vivid lyrics were easy to hear. Amazing poetry. Damn.

I've heard this album about five times already. It's art, real art, and what he does with his crude vocals depicts a class of people who are innocently guilty. He speaks the language of a person deranged by spiritual pain, but still having to deal with life's cheap demands.

So while I'm late to the party, it's better late than never. And I've got so many albums to go.

Me Me

Love your description of Tom’s music. I just got into Tom Waits myself, like you the little I had seen of him interested me, he is just not the kind of guy you forget whether he is performing or just doing a interview. I had him in the back of my mind for years before I finally got to listening to him this year. I’ve so far listened to the albums Rain Dogs,Closing time and Bone machine in that order. I Can’t wait to explore more of his music.

John Roberts

Poetry. Sheer poetry.

Peter Billings

😧 woah. This just took me faaaar away from the Jersey Shore parking lot I listening to it in...


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