Tom Waits - On The Nickel Lyrics



sticks and stones will break my bones, but i always will be true, and when
your mama is dead and gone, i'll sing this lullabye just for you, and what
becomes of all the little boys, who never comb their hair, well they're lined
up all around the block, on the nickel over there.

so you better bring a bucket, there is a hole in the pail, and if you don't
get my letter, then you'll know that i'm in jail, and what becomes of all the
little boys, who never say their prayers, well they're sleepin' like a baby,
on the nickel over there.

and if you chew tobacco, and wish upon a star, well you'll find out where
the scarecrows sit, just like punchlines between the cars, and i know a place
where a royal flush, can never beat a pair, and even thomas jefferson, is on
the nickel over there.

so ring around the rosie, you're sleepin' in the rain, and you're always
late for supper, and man you let me down again, i thought i heard a
mockingbird, roosevelt knows where, you can skip the light, with grady tuck,
on the nickel over there.

so what becomes of all the little boys, who run away from home, well the
world just keeps gettin' bigger, once you get out on your own, so here's to
all the little boys, the sandman takes you where, you'll be sleepin' with a
pillowman, on the nickel over there.

so let's climb up through that button hole, and we'll fall right up the
stairs, and i'll show you where the short dogs grow, on the nickel over there.





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Tom Waits On The Nickel Comments
  1. Gerwyn Evans

    A masterpiece of multi-layered pathos.

  2. Lloyd Cox

    Wow, one of the best....Lloyd :)

  3. ignacio meteors

    That grazy american dream, you got it fron uppity european gits.

  4. jbl.90 -

    For some reason i find myself right here every year when december hits.

  5. Carl A

    You only appreciate this work of art if you have ever hit rock bottom. Then you know pain and despair and hopelessness. Tom offers a healing balm of magical music.

  6. anonymous anonymous

    jeez you stole my other nick name

  7. anonymous anonymous

    wish this Christmas I could open my house to a few even more down and out folks and give them a Christmas dinner- but... THAT is something to CELEBRATE not SHOPPING

  8. Dave Danielson

    Tom Waits is a master of making us think and feel. The comments on this video say that in spades. I cried when I read the comment that this song made them think of their son in jail. Tom Waits makes me think deeply about issues more than any other artist I can think of

  9. Michael Neidermayer

    DEAR TOM, YOU HAVE KILLED ME SINCE I FOUND YOU SO LONG AGO . YEAH YOU BUST MY HEART AND KNOCK THIS STUFF RITE OUT THE PARK ! THANK YOU SO MUCH ! YOUR SONGS ARE ... BEST!!

  10. Colombine Colombine

    💜💜💜💜

  11. nora fatty

    this breaks my heart

  12. Joseph Carpenter

    Amen Tom

  13. kenneth furlong

    or maybe on the actual nickel lolok this is still fun

  14. kenneth furlong

    lol on the dollar glad there not on the nickel

  15. Sold to be Diers

    ''Wherever your goin' or think you have been.
    Tom always Waits there for you.'' -111519

  16. Laurent Luca

    Inarrivabile Tom Waits

  17. Zed137

    Sticks and stones will break my bones
    But I always will be true
    And when your mama is dead and gone
    I'll sing this lullaby just for you
    So what becomes of all the little boys
    Who never comb their hair?
    They're lined up all around the block
    On The Nickel over there

    So you better bring a bucket
    There is a hole in the pail
    If you don't get my letter
    Then you'll know that I'm in jail
    So what becomes of all the little boys
    Who never say their prayers?
    They're sleepin' like a baby
    On The Nickel over there

    If you chew tobacco, and wish upon a star
    You'll find out where the scarecrows sit
    Just like punchlines between the cars
    I know a place where a royal flush
    Can never beat a pair
    And even Thomas Jefferson
    Is On The Nickel over there

    So ring around the rosie, you're sleepin' in the rain
    And you're always late for supper
    And man you let me down, let me down again
    I thought I heard a mockingbird, Roosevelt knows where
    You can skip the light with grady tuck
    On the Nickel over there

    So what becomes of all the little boys
    Who run away from home?
    The world just keeps gettin' bigger
    Once you get out on your own
    So what becomes of all the little boys
    The sandman takes you where
    You'll be sleepin' with a pillowman
    On the Nickel over there

    So let's climb up through that button hole
    And fall right up the stairs
    I'll show you where the short dogs grow
    On the Nickel over there

  18. Dirty Cracker

    So versatile.

  19. Miss Pinkopay

    It's impossible to listen to this song without getting sad feelings and goose bumps. My father loved this song so much. He and I agreed that sad songs were the best songs because they made you feel the most emotions. Long live Tom Waits!

  20. tattooedfagin

    This & Kentucky Avenue & I'm done

  21. Larry Dwyer

    When my mom passed away this song kept me on the ground when I thought I could just float away.

  22. gregory sullivan

    Tom Waits hangs the moon. I had a dog that threw tinsel.

  23. Donald Smith

    "Climb up through
    that button hole.
    Fall right up the stairs"

  24. Sky J

    So beautiful. Such talent. Thank you, Tom Waits.

  25. conchi dominguez

    Compromiso con la vida...

  26. LINDA LEE

    ONE OF HIS BEST- FROM B/W PERIOD.

  27. Zed137

    Sticks and
    stones will break my bones

    But I always will be true

    And when your mama is dead and gone

    I'll sing this lullaby just for you

    So what becomes of all the little boys

    Who never comb their hair?

    They're lined up all around the block

    On The Nickel over there



    So you better bring a bucket

    There is a hole in the pail

    If you don't get my letter

    Then you'll know that I'm in jail

    So what becomes of all the little boys

    Who never say their prayers?

    They're sleepin' like a baby

    On The Nickel over there



    If you chew tobacco, and wish upon a star

    You'll find out where the scarecrows sit

    Just like punchlines between the cars

    I know a place where a royal flush

    Can never beat a pair

    And even Thomas Jefferson

    Is On The Nickel over there



    So ring around the rosie, you're sleepin' in the rain

    And you're always late for supper

    And man you let me down, let me down again

    I thought I heard a mockingbird, Roosevelt knows where

    You can skip the light with grady tuck

    On the Nickel over there



    So what becomes of all the little boys

    Who run away from home?

    The world just keeps gettin' bigger

    Once you get out on your own

    So what becomes of all the little boys

    The sandman takes you where

    You'll be sleepin' with a pillowman

    On the Nickel over there



    So let's climb up through that button hole

    And fall right up the stairs

    I'll show you where the short dogs grow

    On the Nickel over there

  28. Angelique

    One of the best songs ever written, makes me nearly cry everytime

  29. Joe M.

    I love any song that mentions scarecrows.

  30. xoxb2

    They play this in Heaven, you know? Where the short dogs grow.

  31. Sean Coleman

    Iv been all the way here but now I’m not . Help those who cannot help themselves . From a dime to a dollar it’s just your throw away change . Follow your heart not the money . Take a look how justice is shared out . Would you not breath for those who cannot .

  32. Matthias Prinz

    Gott segne ihn

  33. Robert Moe

    Thank you Tom

  34. DKashman

    I have not listened to this song in maybe 30 years, beats me why I stopped listening but I will not wait another 30 to listen again I guarantee that. Tom is right up there with the best in the world.

  35. christian König

    American history

  36. christian König

    Masterpiece

  37. Alan Brown

    No one writes such deeply moving songs about the gentle souls who slip through life's safety nets quite like Tom Waits. Songs like "A Soldier's Things", Kentucky Avenue" Invitation To The Blues" and so many more. He is truly their patron saint making sure that we don't completely forget them or our own humanity.

  38. Tony Lombardo

    One day I’ll get all the way through this song without tearing up, and that will be a sad and crazy day.

  39. Matthias Prinz

    Great man

  40. Matthias Prinz

    Genial.Danke Tom.
    Grüße aus Deutschland.

  41. Sloan Love

    If you can watch this without tears, you may have a stone heart

  42. Liam Ferry

    no images can show me what I see when I hear Tom Waits

  43. Larry Cork

    such a beautiful song

  44. Wayne Brogdon

    So much heart

  45. Ped Xing

    Lived on the. Nickle. God bless you, Tom Waits.

  46. Pietro Margherita

    emozioni indescrivibili

  47. Μανωλης Φιολακης

    That's what happens to the little boys that don't combe their hair and don't say their prayers!

  48. Dennis Coon

    An immortal masterpiece, this hard-bitten 60 yr old tradesman weeps every time he plays it

  49. MGTOW Baggins

    Sticks and stones will break my bones, but i always will be true, and when
    your mama is dead and gone, i'll sing this lullabye just for you, and what
    becomes of all the little boys, who never comb their hair, well they're lined
    up all around the block, on the nickel over there.

    so you better bring a bucket, there is a hole in the pail, and if you don't
    get my letter, then you'll know that i'm in jail, and what becomes of all the
    little boys, who never say their prayers, well they're sleepin' like a baby,
    on the nickel over there.

    and if you chew tobacco, and wish upon a star, well you'll find out where
    the scarecrows sit, just like punchlines between the cars, and i know a place
    where a royal flush, can never beat a pair, and even thomas jefferson, is on
    the nickel over there.

    so ring around the rosie, you're sleepin' in the rain, and you're always
    late for supper, and man you let me down again, i thought i heard a
    mockingbird, roosevelt knows where, you can skip the light, with grady tuck,
    on the nickel over there.

    so what becomes of all the little boys, who run away from home, well the
    world just keeps gettin' bigger, once you get out on your own, so here's to
    all the little boys, the sandman takes you where, you'll be sleepin' with a
    pillowman, on the nickel over there.

    so let's climb up through that button hole, and we'll fall right up the
    stairs, and i'll show you where the short dogs grow, on the nickel over there.

  50. Jesus Saves

    I KNOW A PLACE WHERE A ROYAL FLUSH NEVER BEAT A PAIR

  51. dillon10121

    How are him and Charles Bukowski NOT the same person?!!

    Larry Linn

    Kindred spirits.

  52. Blues Rain

    on the nickel..

  53. Theseustoo Astyages

    13 banksters don't understand this song...

  54. Theseustoo Astyages

    I LOVE this song... I really think it's the very best thing Tom Waits EVER wrote... but it brings me to tears... especially when I hear it along with this video, which was obviously made by someone who actually understands what it really means... Big thumbs up dude... even though you made a grown man cry! :D

    Donny Thompson

    Theseustoo Astyages - as far as choosing my favorite Tom Waits song, its difficult, but I think it’s a coin toss between “On The Nickel”, and “Kentucky Avenue”; they’re both similar in their lyrical vibes, similar with their gorgeous string arrangements, and even though I’ve heard both songs countless times, they still bring tears to my eyes when I hear them. I LOVED this era of Tom Waits; with albums like “Blue Valentine”, and “Heart Attack And Vine”.
    Both albums were beyond incredible. ❤️

  55. Juan Miguel Muñoz

    Tom waits, En su plenitud, emocionante, inborrable

  56. Joe Rafferty

    This song for me sums up Tom's genius more than any other in my opinion. It shows his ability to capture the pain and hardships of people who are down and out in society through his voice and lyrics and then juxtapose it with some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard which makes it all the more heartbreaking for those who can't even begin to imagine the reality of their struggles. I know genius is a word that gets thrown around a lot and very loosely these days, but in Tom's case I think it's a title he's well and truly earned.

    Larry Linn

    Well said!

  57. Francie Mulligan

    i have listened to this song over the years and for some reason it hasn't aged in any way it encompasses our lives in so many ways to the fragility of the human .

    Andrew Wright

    Absolutely agree. Astounding song

  58. Arjun L Sen

    awesome, awesome. Never again will we hear such music made.

  59. Matt Hopkins

    There's so many great things about Tom Waits' music, and the fantastic thing about this particular masterpiece is that it brings out the intelligent Americans. The thoughtful Americans. The Americans capable of artistic appreciation. And that's good, because we all know there's not many of you. But those that there are - I salute you, and thank you.

    Robert Balliet

    Matt Hopkins Great statement! True statement!!

    Sold to be Diers

    ''There are artists who wrest us up, & place us into themselves.
    These are the 'One's Who' continue to wrest us up...
    Even beyond their appointed rests in peace.'' -gilpin 111519

  60. Isa Ross

    Tom I'm 59yrs old now. Isa X

  61. Alessandro Oliveira

    What the nickel mean in this song?

    Pegirae Tig Anderson

    5th Ave NY aka skidrow

    Alessandro Oliveira

    ​@Pegirae Tig Anderson After listening this song a lot, I figure out that the "nickel" is when someone is homeless asking for money. Probably in 5th Ave NY as you said.

  62. Michael L

    Genial schön!

  63. jeff f

    Somehow, I had missed this one until recently, but it's become one of my favorite Waits songs.

  64. Quiet Matu

    That ugly singing voice in the world plays the most gentle and beautiful music in the world.

  65. Robert Kimbell

    My long lost uncle passed away this spring. He ran away and changed his name so many years ago. I find he had been homeless...and drunk...and in jail far too many times. I wish I would have known him. I hope that he is peaceful now, sleeping, "on a nickel over there."

  66. The stolen stitches Sideshow

    That ending line, I’ll show you where the short dogs grow.

    Don’t know what it means, sounds almost like nonsense but he has the way of just taking a peculiar phrase making it sound so powerful

    Carla Fox

    Short dog is an old time hustler, in Ireland they call people that scraped to get through life a short dog.

    xoxb2

    @Carla Fox There's also an element of magical transformation - a (literal) short dog grows (metaphorically) in this world he's described of solidarity and compassion (the pair, the pillow etc). And incorporated into Waits's art ("I'll show you ... ") they grow in dignity. He does similar things in Kentucky Ave. Great, great poetry.

  67. Nepia Hemopo

    That a human can be so gifted disgusts me. Go away!

    Larry Linn

    To, please stay!

  68. 松崎浩之

    これもまた青春

  69. Mark Fields

    Sleeping in the rain gets me every time I used to be homeless and all I had was a cheap mp3 player and I'd listen to this and it gave me strength somehow

    michael wertzy

    On the "streets" 5 1/2 yrs, and if weren't for music and guitars that came and went, I would never have survived.

    Cynthia Madrid

    Thank You.. for reminding us
    How important music can be
    Especially the roots in the
    Heart of Tom Waits.

    Carl A

    Bless you my man. Understanding and standing up ain't easy. Never give up, and if you must just roll with the punches (Young MC).

    Peter Gerstenzang

    Mark Fields I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Hope things have picked up for you

  70. Isa Ross

    ahhh our poor souls. love you X

  71. eqqu6

    Itś gratest on all time. I ll lav that song. Thans Tom Waits!

  72. Larry Linn

    “The Nickel” is street slang from a few years ago for 5th Street, skid row in downtown Los Angeles. Today it is has been renovated and it is hip. Something gained, and something lost.

  73. Ufoman

    Nickel ?... Can someone lend me a dime?

    Larry Linn

    Small change?

  74. Juan Miguel Muñoz

    Una perfecta belleza

  75. Captain LeChimp

    Can anyone help me? What is a "pillowman"? :-) I don`t get this whole last passage.... Thanks <3

    Pegirae Tig Anderson

    A well padded individual

    xoxb2

    I hear it as "pillow of man" - in other words, he's leaning on somebody else while sleeping.

  76. Antonio Melillo

    excellent

  77. Derek Wilson

    I know where Im gonnae start crying. I've started already.

  78. Alberto Damico

    bella canzone

  79. martin kelly

    Canada had cohen and the states has waits. they both should be on the dollar.

    Bob Pegritz

    Waits is on The Nickel.

    Larry Linn

    The “Nickle” was slang in those days, for 5th street in downtown Los Angeles, a.k.a “Skid Row”.

    phizzler5051

    i remember goin to a show. saw the minibosses and totally radd at a place called "the smell" it was on i think 3rd n main. next to the nickel. between the parking lot and the entrance there were prolly 100 or more people sleepin on the sidewalks

    richard mcgann

    and bob dylan

    Sold to be Diers

    Prophets, Seers, & Sages...
    Angels of the ages. -Mark Bolan

  80. Andrew Parry

    "I know a place where a royal flush never beat pair
    And even Thomas Jefferson is on the nickel over there"

    What an incredible piece of imagery.

    christian König

    He is a Poet

    Carl A

    Yes, Mr. Waits an imagination enough to convey in the most artistic way the human condition. Warm Beer and Cold Women from Nighthawks at the Diner. Or better yet, Putnam County. Suggested to you by an old Viet Vet with time on his hands!

  81. Paul Davey

    So many memories glad I found this been so long takes me so way back

  82. Nick Parton

    'The world just keeps getting bigger once you get out on your own' - that line gets me right in the gut.

    Carl A

    Good thing it made an impression on you. Reality does just that.

  83. henry michal

    i never tire of this song

  84. Anshul Mittal

    Could someone please be kind enough to explain to me what Tom Waits is trying to convey here? I've listened to this song to no end, and love it beyond words can explain, but it'd get that much more special if I could get the connotation. :)

    Thad

    Anshul Mittal ........Tom was writing about the street people who live on 5th street in Los Angeles. The street became so crowded with homeless street people that it has since spread to the surrounding blocks around 5th street. However the local street people affectionately call their home The Nickle referring to the street name...fifth street. He refers to this song as a wino’s lullaby. The reference to Thomas Jefferson is that some of the street people are somewhat demented and think they are still little children or are passed presidents or kings or queens of countries or other important dignitaries. The locals give them nicknames such as Thomas Jefferson. Hope this helps.

    Larry Linn

    The “Nickle” was slang in those days, for 5th street in downtown Los Angeles, a.k.a “Skid Row”.

  85. Keith Slater

    My favourite Tom Waits song

  86. Evan Mulryan

    This is how I found tom waits, epic voice

  87. juventuspiero1

    Amazing song

  88. Jackie Bugdale

    thinking of my son in jail tonight.

    rundata

    Jackie Bugdale hope he's OK now

    Kevin High

    Ill be hoping girl.

    sewerslide 665mg

    prob 2 late but most of us have been there ain't no thing

    Tony Lombardo

    It has been a year since you posted this comment. I hope your son is doing well.

    gay tekken champion 1991

    @Tony Lombardo im here too, i hope he is all well and safe

  89. Thomas Mcgraw

    This guy sings from his bollocks,wonderful wonderful song!

  90. zustur

    This song brings tears even to my boyfriend's eyes - and boyfriend hates Tom Waits songs...

  91. Ufoman

    Classic

  92. Peter Sutherland

    summary

  93. Tom Houlihan

    how can a song that sounds so beautiful be so sad

    Schelby LO

    Tom Houlihan
    Tom Waits is a genius. It's his special talent to combine sad lyrics with beautiful music. He is a master in this.

    Larry Linn

    @Schelby LO Well said!

  94. Cinzia Rombi

    I.

    grandissima arte...

  95. Fraser Mair

    Tom Waits is the one.

  96. iFigaro2u

    Makes me want a chair, a quiet place, a cigarette and a drink.

  97. valpuia hmar

    so beautiful

  98. Matt Hopkins

    Oh Christ.... this is the only song that'll make me openly blub! As soon as I hear those opening strings, damnit! Masterpiece... what else can you say?? Tom Waits - Truly the LAST of the original artists. A genius who far too few people know we still posess.

    Steve O'Keefe

    Manning Bartlett f

    Julian Sutherland-Beatson

    Manning Bartlett - yep I'm with you there.

    Anthony Hopkins

    I'm an ex special forces, the bad guys didn't get me, Tom does every time. so powerful.

    lymehausdj8

    I agree about this amazing song. Grapefruit moon has the same effect on me.

    Ridgerunner

    Well said Matt..... They don't make musical geniuses like Waits anymore - It's all crap.  Ya, like Waits' wife said: "He either writes Grim Reapers, or Grand Weapers".  But they're all part of the human soul in my opinion.