Song Lyrics


by Joni Mitchell

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Three waitresses all wearing
Black diamond earrings
Talking about zombies
and Singapore slings
No trouble in their faces
Not one anxious voice
None of the crazy you get
From too much choice
The thumb and the satchel
Or the rented Rolls-Royce
And you think she knows something
By the second refill
You think she's enlightened
As she totals your bill
You say "show me the way
To Barangrill"

Well some say it's in service
They say "humble makes pure"
You're hoping it's near Folly
'Cause you're headed that way for sure
And you just have to laugh
'Cause it's all so crazy
Her mind's on her boyfriend
And eggs over easy
It's just a trick on you
Her mirrors and your will
So you ask the truck driver
On the way to the till
But he's just a slave
To Barangrill

The guy at the gas pumps
He's got a lot of soul
He sings Merry Christmas for you
Just like Nat King Cole
And he makes up his own tune
Right on the spot
About whitewalls and windshields
And this job he's got
And you want to get moving
And you want to stay still
But lost in the moment
Some longing gets filled
And you even forget to ask
"Hey, Where's Barangrill?"

© Joni Mitchell

Footnotes to Barangrill

Joni introduced the song this way on August 12, 1974 at Temple University [transcribed by Mark Bell]:

I wrote this song a couple years ago; I was, ah… at that time I suppose more of a seeker, more “on the path” than I am now. Mainly because I was more miserable at that time [Joni chuckles]. And, uh, I wrote it kind of as a spoof on the Trinity, you know. Centered around three waitresses. [scattered audience applause] And I had two verses of it written, and I wasn’t exactly sure where it was going to take me, and one night I pulled into this gas station. It was after a session. It was, like, really early in the morning. And there was nobody there lined up or anything. There was this one guy, old black guy, on duty there. And he said to me “what are you doing out this hour of night?” And I said, “well, I just came from a recording session.” And he says “ohh, are you a singer?” And I said “yeah.” And he said “well, sing me something then.” So I mean, it’s like…on the spot like that, I couldn’t think of anything to sing, you know, so I said “I…you know, it’s very late at night, you know I’ve blown my pipes.” He said, “Okay; I’ll sing you something then.”

So he stepped back from the car and he burst into song, you know, and he started going through this whole routine, and I kept thinking to myself…[Joni speaking deliberately] ”I wish he would hurry up and put gas in my car.” [audience laughter]

And then halfway through it I said to myself “Now, wait a minute. This is a beautiful moment, and you’re rushing right through it, you know. Like you’re hasty to go home to what? To sleep, right? Is sleep more important than this beautiful moment? So when I got home, like, I felt like I had somehow rather been enlightened. This is a song called, ah [audience applause]….I don’t have to do it now! That’s what folkies used to do. You remember that? In coffeehouse days, they’d stand up and they’d say “this is a song about a man who kills a woman down by the river and along comes a knight on horseback and rescues the lady…” And then he sings the song [Joni laughs, tuning guitar]. I’m an old folkie. [audience laughter, applause] [singing] ‘I’m an old folk…You’re an old..’ [Joni chuckles, finishes checking guitar tuning]

Guitar Transcriptions of Barangrill

Barangrill has been recorded by 9 others

  • All Good Children (from "All Good Children" - 1979)
  • Antonioli, Laurie (from "Songs of Shadow, Songs of Light " - 2014) [buy at Amazon]
  • Cole, Beth Anne (from "Aileen Ahern, Eric Friendenberg Quintet, Beth Anne Cole, Chilko" - 1976)
  • Murphy, Mark  (from "Mark II" - 1974)
  • Oberlin, Karen  (from "My Standards" - 2000)
  • Robert Glasper (from "Covered (The Robert Glasper Trio recorded live at Capitol Studios) " - 2015) [buy at Amazon]
  • Rubén Fernández - Andreu Zaragoza featuring Carme Canela, Pau Domenech & Zamak Quartet  (from "Girassol" - 2015) [buy at Amazon]
  • Schurr, Josh (- )
  • Shaw, Ian (from "Drawn To All Things" - 2006)
  • [more information on recordings by other artists]

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