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Nighthawk Postcards (From Easy Street)

This song is by Tom Waits and appears on the album Nighthawks At The Diner (1975).

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Goodness gracious
My bass player should be chained up somewhere

I wanna take you on a kind of inebriational travelogue here
Well, ain't got no spare, you ain't got no jack
You don't give a shit you ain't never coming back
Maybe your standing on the corner of 17th and Wazee Streets, yeah

Out in front of the Terminal bar
There's a Thunderbird moving in muscatel sky
You've been drinking cleaning products all night
Open for suggestions
It's a kinda about eh...well it's kinda about going down to the corner and say
"Well I'm just going down to the corner to get a pack of cigarettes I'll be back in a minute."

Yeah, check out the street and it looks likes kinda of a
Kinda of a blur drizzle down the plate glass
And there's a neon swizzle stick stirring up the sultry night air
Looks like a yellow biscuit of a buttery cue ball moon
Rollin' maverick across an obsidian sky

And as the buses go groanin' and wheezin'
Down on the corner I'm freezing
On a restless boulevard in a midnight road
I'm across town from Easy Street
With the tight knots of moviegoers and out of towners on the stroll

The buildings towering high above lit like dominoes or black dice
Used car salesmen dressed up in Purina Checkerboard slacks
And Foster Grant wrap-around
Pacing in front of rainbow Earl Scheib $39.95 merchandise

Like barkers at a shooting gallery
They throw out kind of a Texas Guinan routine
"Hello sucker, we like your money just as well as anybody else's here
Come on over here now
Let me put the cut back in your strut and the glide back in your stride
Now climb aboard a custom Oldsmobile and let me take you for a ride"
Or they give you the P.T. Barnum bit
"There's a sucker born every minute
You just happened to be comin' along at the right time, you know
Come over here"

Well you know, all the harlequin sailors are on the stroll
In a search of "Like New," "New Paint"
And decent factory air and AM-FM dreams
And all the piss yellow gypsy cabs
That stack up in the taxi zones and the're waiting like pinball machines
To be ticking off a joy ride to a magical place
Like truckers welcome diners

With dirt lots full of Peterbilts and Kenworths and Jimmy's and the like
They're hiballin' with bankrupt brakes
Man, the're over-driven and the're under paid
The're overfed and the're a day late and a dollar short
Christ, I got my lips around a bottle and I got my foot on the throttle
And I'm standing on the corner

Standing on the corner like "I just got in town" jasper
I'm on a street corner with a gasper
Looking for some kind of Cheshire billboard grin
Stroking a goateed chin
Using parking meters as walking sticks
On the inebriated stroll
With my eyelids propped open at half mast

But you know over at Chubb's Pool Hall and Snooker
Well, it was a nickle after two, yeah it was a nickle after two
And in the cobalt steel blue dream smoke
Why it was the radio that groaned out the hit parade
And the chalk squeaked and the floorboards creaked
And an Olympia sign winked through a torn yellow shade
Old Jack Chance himself leaning up against a Wurlitzer
Man, he was eyeballing out a 5-ball combination shot

Impossible you say? Hard to believe?
Perhaps out of the realm of possibility? Nah
'Cause he'll be stretchin' out long tawny fingers
Out across a cool green felt in a provocative golden gate
He got a full table rail shot that's no sweat
And I leaned up against my banister
And wandered over to the Wurlitzer and I punched A-2

I was lookin' for maybe "Wine, Wine, Wine" by the Night Caps
Starring Chuck E. Weiss or maybe
Maybe a little something called "High Blood Pressure"
By George 'cryin' in the streets' Perkins, no dice
"Cause that's life, that's what all the people say
Your riding high in April, seriously shot down in May
But I know I'm gonna change that tune"
When I'm standing underneath a buttery moon
That's all melted off to one side

It was just about that time
That the sun came crawling yellow out of a manhole at the foot of 23rd Street
And a dracula moon in a black disguise
Was making its way back to its pre-paid room at the St. Moritz Hotel

The El train tumbled across the trestles
And it sounded like the ghost of Gene Krupa
With an overhead cam and glasspacks
And the whispering brushes of wet radials on wet pavement
With a traffic jam session on Belmont tonight
And the rhapsody of the pending evening
I leaned up against my banister

And I've been looking for some kind of an emotional investment
With romantic dividends, yeah
Kind of a physical negotiation is underway
Well, as I attempt to consolidate all my missed weekly rendezvous
Into one-low-monthly payment, through the nose, yeah

With romantic residuals and legs akimbo
But the chances are that more than likely
Standing underneath a moon holding water
I'll probably be held over for another smashed weekend

Written by:

Tom Waits