Lyrically Speaking: Joni Mitchell's Furry Sings the Blues
We begin a new feature called Lyrically Speaking, where we highlight the lyrics of one of our favorite tunes.
This has always been one of my favorite songs by Joni Mitchell. The song written about bluesman Furry Lewis is amazing and the lyrics just brings him and Beale Street in Memphis alive.
Furry Sings the Blues from the album Hejira
Old Beale Street is coming down Sweeties’ Snack Bar, boarded up now And Egles The Tailor and the Shine Boy’s gone Faded out with ragtime blues Handy’s cast in bronze And he’s standing in a little park With a trumpet in his hand Like he’s listening back to the good old bands And the click of high heeled shoes Old Furry sings the blues Propped up in his bed With his dentures and his leg removed And Ginny’s there For her kindness and Furry’s beer She’s the old man’s angel overseer
Pawn shops glitter like gold tooth caps In the grey decay They chew the last few dollars off Old Beale Street’s carcass Carrion and mercy Blue and silver sparkling drums Cheap guitars, eye shades and guns Aimed at the hot blood of being no one Down and out in Memphis Tennessee Old Furry sings the blues You bring him smoke and drink and he’ll play for you lt’s mostly muttering now and sideshow spiel But there was one song he played I could really feel
There’s a double bill murder at the New Daisy The old girl’s silent across the street She’s silent – waiting for the wrecker’s beat Silent – staring ar her stolen name Diamond boys and satin dolls Bourbon laughter- ghosts – history falls To parking lots and shopping malls As they tear down old Beale Street Old Furry sings the blues He points a bony finger at you and “I don’t like you” Everybody laughs as if it’s the old man’s standard joke But it’s true We’re only welcome for our drink and smoke
W.C. Handy I’m rich and I’m fay And I’m not familiar with what you played But I get such strong impressions of your hey day Looking up and down old Beale Street Ghosts of the darktown society Come right out of the bricks at me Like it’s a Saturday night They’re in their finery Dancing it up and making deals Furry sings the blues Why should I expect that old guy to give it to me true Fallen to hard luck And time and other thieves While our limo is shining on his shanty street Old Furry sings the blues