But it gets me uptown
Pass the time to the rant of a seer
An evangelist getting around
And the end might be nigh
And our sins might consume us
And I’ll catch the rest soon enough
I got a pocket of change
Plenty more where that came from
Rub two dimes together
Check me out darling
No telling now what I’ll become
And the beggars can wait
And the tax man can wait
We’ll be staying out later than we should
On the way to the pawn shop
Not all that long ago
Making bets on the price of my banjo
And counting how far I think it might go
Just a mile or two
Or a decade or two
Or New York City with you
I have spent a lot of time broke. I’m not proud of it, but it’s a fact of my history that is evident to anyone who has paid attention to any sustained run of these songs. I sing about being down on my luck a lot, and it’s not some intellectual exercise in empathy. I really did pawn a banjo for rent money one time. And a keyboard. And a bass. And a bunch of other stuff. I’ve also had a ton of help over the years, so when I’m singing about being broke, it’s important to note that I’m not really singing about being poor. I’ve never faced the existential threat of poverty. After all, I had a banjo to pawn in the first place. And a bass. And a keyboard. And a whole bunch of other stuff.
Still, it’s a relief to ride around beneath New York with the best paycheck I’ve had in a little while. I don’t mean to be a braggart. I haven’t got enough to brag. It’s just that this isn’t a fun place to be broke. Walking out the door exacts a fee, and it isn’t small. It causes one to view the city from a distance, even from within. Look, but don’t touch New York. Hold your breath until you get home. You made it home, just don’t check your balance. You’re not tired? Go to bed early anyway. It’s for your own good.
This growly waltz is a song I’ve written a bunch of times, or close to it. I like this version. It’s pretty honest.