Jersey Girl

I mentioned yesterday that, while writing the post Corin Raymond’s “Morning Glories,” I was listening to the 25-song mix he offered as a perk during his crowdfunding campaign for the album Dirty Mansions.

One song from the mix CD that truly captured my heart and soul was “Jersey Girl” by American singer, songwriter, actor and composer Tom Waits (b. 1949). I’ve never closely followed Waits’ career, but I enjoy his gravelly voice and the authentic, working-class vibe of his music. There’s beauty in the simplicity of the piece; no fancy production effects, just a sparse band and arrangement faithfully complementing his balladeering. I remember a former in-law of mine was a huge Tom Waits fan, and I seem to recall she even had a framed poster of him in her apartment living room many years ago.

In “Jersey Girl,” Waits is so profoundly enamoured with a love that he can’t sleep at night when he’s not with her. The intensity of his feeling has led him to reevaluate his life and what matters to him. He no longer wants to go out with the guys on his side of the river and be part of their tawdry pursuits; he wants to be with his lover, walking down the street with her, taking rides with her at the carnival, or just holding each other.

“got no time for the corner
boys, down in the street
makin’ all that noise, don’t
want no whores on eighth
avenue, cause tonight i’m
gonna be with you.

cause tonight i’m gonna
take that ride, across the
river to the jersey side, take
my baby to the carnival,
and i’ll take you on all the

down the shore every-
thing’s alright, you with
your baby on a saturday
night, don’t you know that
all my dreams come true,
when i’m walkin’ down the
street with you, sing sha la
la la la la sha la la la.

you know she thrills me
with all her charms, when
i’m wrapped up in my
baby’s arms, my little an-
gel gives me everything, i
know someday that she’ll
wear my ring.

so don’t bother me cause
i got no time, i’m on my
way to see that girl of mine,
nothin’ else matters in this
whole wide world, when
you’re in love with a jersey
girl, sing sha la la la la la la.

and i call your name, i
can’t sleep at night, sha la
la la la la la.”

“Jersey Girl,” by Tom Waits.
Official lyrics retrieved from the YouTube post, with corrections as sung.

There’s such purity in this love story. It’s awe-inspiring with the feelings it evokes in the listener—truly a gorgeous piece of music.

“Jersey Girl” comes from Waits’ seventh studio album, Heartattack and Vine (1980). The song has been covered by artists including Bruce Springsteen (b. 1949) on Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Live 1975-1985 (1986) and by Corinne Bailey Rae (b. 1979) on the collection Come On up to the House: Women Sing Tom Waits (2019).

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Here’s the audio from the Tom Waits YouTube channel:

And here’s the Bailey Rae version:

Okay, here’s Springsteen’s, too:

What did you think of the song? Whose version do you prefer?

With warm wishes,


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