Thursday, May 24, 2007

The one that got away

I know you were probably wondering why you didn't get your Dose of Dylan on the latest Hopscast. After all the theme, Crime and Punishment, seems like something Dylan would have sung about quite a bit. Indeed that is true - there are a bunch of songs I COULD have played. However, the one I REALLY wanted to play just turned out being too long for the show. The song, "Joey", can be found on the Desire album. It's a tale of a mobster who follows a path very similar to the path presented in Episode 14 of "All You Need Is Hops". Here are the lyrics:

Born in Red Hook, Brooklyn, in the year of who knows when /Opened up his eyes to the tune of an accordion / Always on the outside of whatever side there was / When they asked him why it had to be that way, "Well," he answered, "just because."

Larry was the oldest, Joey was next to last. They called Joe "Crazy," the baby they called "Kid Blast." Some say they lived off gambling and runnin' numbers too. It always seemed they got caught between the mob and the men in blue.

CHORUS: Joey, Joey, King of the streets, child of clay / Joey, Joey, What made them want to come and blow you away?

There was talk they killed their rivals, but the truth was far from that / No one ever knew for sure where they were really at. When they tried to strangle Larry, Joey almost hit the roof. He went out that night to seek revenge, thinkin' he was bulletproof.

The war broke out at the break of dawn, it emptied out the streets / Joey and his brothers suffered terrible defeats / Till they ventured out behind the lines and took five prisoners. / They stashed them away in a basement, called them amateurs.

The hostages were tremblin' when they heard a man exclaim, "Let's blow this place to kingdom come, let Con Edison take the blame." But Joey stepped up, he raised his hand, said, "We're not those kind of men. It's peace and quiet that we need to go back to work again."


The police department hounded him, they called him Mr. Smith. They got him on conspiracy, they were never sure who with. "What time is it?" said the judge to Joey when they met. "Five to ten," said Joey. The judge says, "That's exactly what you get."

He did ten years in Attica, reading Nietzsche and Wilhelm Reich. They threw him in the hole one time for tryin' to stop a strike. His closest friends were black men 'cause they seemed to understand / What it's like to be in society with a shackle on your hand.

When they let him out in '71 he'd lost a little weight /. But he dressed like Jimmy Cagney and I swear he did look great. He tried to find the way back into the life he left behind / To the boss he said, "I have returned and now I want what's mine."


It was true that in his later years he would not carry a gun / "I'm around too many children," he'd say, "they should never know of one." Yet he walked right into the clubhouse of his lifelong deadly foe, Emptied out the register, said, "Tell 'em it was Crazy Joe."

One day they blew him down in a clam bar in New York / He could see it comin' through the door as he lifted up his fork. He pushed the table over to protect his family / Then he staggered out into the streets of Little Italy.


Sister Jacqueline and Carmela and mother Mary all did weep. I heard his best friend Frankie say, "He ain't dead, he's just asleep.” Then I saw the old man's limousine head back towards the grave / I guess he had to say one last goodbye to the son that he could not save.

The sun turned cold over President Street and the town of Brooklyn mourned / They said a mass in the old church near the house where he was born. And someday if God's in heaven overlookin' His preserve / I know the men that shot him down will get what they deserve.


And because I want you to enjoy the song for yourself just click here to listen or click the title of this post. Let me know your thoughts by commenting below or emailing me.

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