Home Music Photos Software Writings

Sing Me a Song about Old Chicago

I was walking ’round the South side
Looking for a place to play.
The sign on the bar said, “Inside
It’s open mike today.”

I had tunes about the Congress,
The economy and all their lies.
I was just about to let it all out
When the boss looks up and sighs,

“I heard a hundred rhymes about the present times
And they all sound just the same.
Why don't you sing me a song about Old Chicago?
And I won’t forget your name.”

My set didn’t go so well.

I went over to the barmaid.
She said, “I think you need a drink.”
I said, “Give me whatever suits the weather,
Long as it’s not pink.”

When the night was through, the next thing I knew,
I was strumming beside her bed.
Didn’t want to be rude, tried to set the mood,
But she turned away and said,

“I’ve been rock and rolled ’til it leaves me cold,
And I know you’re not to blame:
But won't you sing me a song about Old Chicago?
And I won’t forget your name.”

I want to hear about the Biograph,
And how Dillinger went down hard.
I want to hear about Al Capone,
Or even the old stockyards.

Tell me how the union boys got in line
At the barrel of a gun.
Tell me how Mrs. O’Leary’s cow
Lit the fire in ’71.

I went to see the Big Man
In the uptown record scene.
I was clipped and slicked and gold-tipped.
I was lean and mean and clean.

The gold records in his office
From every kind of hit singer and band
Made my thoughts run wild, then he turned and smiled,
“Son, you’ve got to understand,

“I've heard so many tunes from so many buffoons,
But if you want to play my game,
You can sing me a song about Old Chicago
And I won’t forget your name.”

Years have passed since those days,
Like years are prone to do.
Sometimes I miss the old days,
Sometimes I prefer the new.

I was sitting back in a coffeehouse,
Checking out the latest thing.
One of those wrecks was as bad as the next
And the singers don’t even sing.

Then out comes a girl with a necklace of pearl
Who says, “They call me Cinnamon Flame.”
I said, “Sing me a song about Old Chicago
And I won’t forget your name.”

She sang:

Big Tim Murphy was a bad boy.
He had a host of evil plans.
Big Tim Murphy was a bad, bad, boy.
He had blood upon his hands.

Big Tim Murphy was a hard man.
All the union boys wished him dead.
Big Tim Murphy was a hard, hard man
On the street or in a bed.

Big Tim Murphy was a cold man,
Then the Camel came around.
Big Tim Murphy is a cold, cold man,
Now he’s laying in the ground.

So I took her to see the Big Man.
He put in his hearing aid.
He said, “I might be old, but I’m still gold:
I get my babies paid.”

Before she finished twelve bars,
He was wearing a great big smile,
’Cause she sang a song that could not go wrong
With that Old Chicago style.

So, if you’re scratching ’round the bottom
Trying to stake your claim to fame,
Just sing ’em a song about Old Chicago
And they won’t forget your name.

And when you see me in the front row,
Don’t be surprised when I exclaim,
“Sing me a song about Old Chicago,
And I won’t forget your name.”