Beale Street Blues

Original Text: 
Blues: An Anthology, ed. W. C. Handy, rev. Jerry Silverman (London: Collier Macmillan, 1972): 116-19.
4The seven wonders of the world I've seen
5And many are the places I have been.
6Take my advice folks and see Beale Street first.
9You'll meet honest men and pick-pockets skilled,
10You'll find that bus'ness never closes till somebody gets killed.
12You'll see Jugs that tell of by-gone days,
13And places, once places, now just a sham,
15If Beale Street could talk, If Beale Streak could talk,
16Married men would have to take their beds and walk
17Except one or two, who never drink booze,
18And the blind man on the corner who sings the Beale Street Blues.
19I'd rather be here than any place I know,
20I'd rather be here than any place I know
21It's goin' to take the Sargent
22For to make me go,
23Goin' to the river, maybe, bye and bye,
24Goin' to the river, and there's a reason why,
25Because the river's wet


1] Broadway: oldest north.-south main avenue in New York City, and the home of American theatre. Back to Line
2] Market Street: major San Francisco thoroughfare running three miles inland from the waterfront of San Francisco Bay. Back to Line
3] Prado: Museo del Prado, art gallery and museum in Madrid. Back to Line
7] Browns: dark-skinned women. Back to Line
8] tailor-mades: suits made especially for one person.
hand-me-downs: clothes handed down from an older person or family member to a younger. Back to Line
11] Hog-Nose rest'rants: Poor Richard's Almanac (1737) explains that, if a traveller wants the best delicacies, he "should have a hog's nose, deer's legs, and an ass's back."
Chitlin' Cafés: ones that serve chitterlings (the small intestines of pigs), a southern favourite. Back to Line
14] The pawnshop's conventional sign is three golden balls hanging down from a bar. Back to Line
26] The state of Tennessee removed Edward Hull "Boss" Crump, the mayor of Memphis, from office in 1917 because he ignored a state ordinance prohibiting the sale and consumption of liquor. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

This is in the public domain.