The Piano Has Been Drinking (N
Tom Waits Lyrics


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The piano has been drinking,
My necktie is asleep
And the combo went back to New York,
The jukebox has to take a leak
And the carpet needs a haircut,
And the spotlight looks like a prison break
And the telephone's out of cigarettes,
And the balcony is on the make
And the piano has been drinking,
The piano has been drinking

And the menus are all freezing,
And the light man's blind in one eye
And he can't see out of the other
And the piano-tuner's got a hearing aid,
And he showed up with his mother
And the piano has been drinking,
The piano has been drinking
As the bouncer is a Sumo wrestler
Cream puff casper milk toast
And the owner is a mental midget
With the I.Q. of a fence post
'Cause the piano has been drinking,
The piano has been drinking

And you can't find your waitress
With a Geiger counter
And she hates you and your friends and you
Just can't get served without her
And the box office is drooling,
And the bar stools are on fire
And the newspapers were fooling,
And the ash-trays have retired
'Cause the piano has been drinking,
The piano has been drinking




The piano has been drinking,
Not me, not me, not me, not me, not me

Overall Meaning

"The Piano Has Been Drinking" is a whimsical and absurd song by Tom Waits that carries a surreal tone. The lyrics describe a dive bar scene where every bizarre and strange thing seems to be happening. The song is a satire of the drunkard lifestyle that not only describes the intoxication but also the confusion and surrealism of the situation.


The song is dominated by a piano playing a dissonant tune, and the lyrics describe the intoxicated state of the patrons and the objects in the bar. Waits sings, "the piano has been drinking," and the lyrics go on to describe some strange behaviors like neckties asleep, carpets needing haircuts, and the spotlight appearing like a prison break. Waits goes on to describe that the piano-tuner came to the bar with his mother, and the light-man is blind in one eye and can't see out of the other.


Overall, the song is a humorous take on a dive bar and the intoxicated state of the patrons. The lyrics are absurd and non-sequitur, and the tone of the song is comical yet also somewhat unsettling.


Line by Line Meaning

The piano has been drinking,
The piano is not working properly


My necktie is asleep
I am feeling sleepy and tired


And the combo went back to New York,
The band has left the place


The jukebox has to take a leak
The jukebox needs to be repaired


And the carpet needs a haircut,
The carpet needs to be cleaned


And the spotlight looks like a prison break
The spotlight is broken or flickering


And the telephone's out of cigarettes,
The cigarette machine is not working


And the balcony is on the make
The balcony is crowded with people trying to flirt


And the menus are all freezing,
The menu is not updated or kept fresh


And the light man's blind in one eye
The light man is not able to see properly


And he can't see out of the other
The light man is not efficient in his job


And the piano-tuner's got a hearing aid,
The piano-tuner is old and hard of hearing


And he showed up with his mother
The piano-tuner is dependent on his mother or needs her help


And the bouncer is a Sumo wrestler
The bouncer is big and tough


Cream puff casper milk toast
The people here are weak and easily intimidated


And the owner is a mental midget
The owner is not smart and incapable of running the place effectively


With the I.Q. of a fence post
The owner is dumb and uneducated


'Cause the piano has been drinking,
The piano is still not working properly


And you can't find your waitress
The service is poor and the waitress is not around


With a Geiger counter
The waitress is nowhere to be found


And she hates you and your friends and you
The waitress is rude and unpleasant to you and your group


Just can't get served without her
The service is slow and inefficient without the waitress


And the box office is drooling,
The box office is not efficient or capable of handling customers


And the bar stools are on fire
People at the bar are too rowdy and out of control


And the newspapers were fooling,
The newspapers were not reliable sources of information


And the ash-trays have retired
The ash-trays are full and no longer in use


'Cause the piano has been drinking,
The piano is still not working properly


Not me, not me, not me, not me, not me
I am not responsible for any of this chaos and dysfunction




Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC
Written by: TOM WAITS

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

ΑΝΤΙ'

The piano has been drinking
My neck tie is asleep
And the combo went back to New York
The jukebox has to take a leak
And the carpet needs a haircut
And the spotlight looks like a prison break
Cause the telephone is out of cigarettes
And the balcony is on the make
And the piano has been drinking
The piano has been drinking

And the menus are all freezing
And the lightman's blind in one eye
And he can't see out of the other
And the piano tuner's got a hearing aid
And showed up with his mother
And the piano has been drinking
The piano has been drinking

Cause the bouncer is a Sumo wrestler
Cream-puff casper milquetoast
And the owner is a mental midget with the I.Q. of a fencepost
Cause the piano has been drinking
The piano has been drinking

And you can't find your waitress
With a Geiger counter
And she hates you and your friends
And you just can't get served
Without her
And the box-office is drooling
And the bar stools are on fire
And the newspapers were fooling
And the ashtrays have retired
And the piano has been drinking
The piano has been drinking
The piano has been drinking
Not me, not me, not me, not me, not me



All comments from YouTube:

Regulator Machine

very authentic, and he is doing this very difficult song cold

Don Spiro

Well, he did write it.

Lucy Lillypad

My best friend and I play this before we go out. We sing REALLY LOUD!! Love the tune!!

Alejandro Peralez

I sure am a piano.. it’s his best rendition of the tune in this performance.

Danny DeCosa

Master musician!

ΑΝΤΙ'

The piano has been drinking
My neck tie is asleep
And the combo went back to New York
The jukebox has to take a leak
And the carpet needs a haircut
And the spotlight looks like a prison break
Cause the telephone is out of cigarettes
And the balcony is on the make
And the piano has been drinking
The piano has been drinking

And the menus are all freezing
And the lightman's blind in one eye
And he can't see out of the other
And the piano tuner's got a hearing aid
And showed up with his mother
And the piano has been drinking
The piano has been drinking

Cause the bouncer is a Sumo wrestler
Cream-puff casper milquetoast
And the owner is a mental midget with the I.Q. of a fencepost
Cause the piano has been drinking
The piano has been drinking

And you can't find your waitress
With a Geiger counter
And she hates you and your friends
And you just can't get served
Without her
And the box-office is drooling
And the bar stools are on fire
And the newspapers were fooling
And the ashtrays have retired
And the piano has been drinking
The piano has been drinking
The piano has been drinking
Not me, not me, not me, not me, not me

Conil Musician

I love this. Thank you for sharing, CR.

W.L. Graves

been tom waits fan since 70's .. brilliant !

Gregory Larry

The one and only. There is nothing likes this around anymore.

Conrad Black

You can hear the beginnings of "Tango till they're sore"...

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