Song Lyrics

Edith And The Kingpin

by Joni Mitchell

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The big man arrives
Disco dancers greet him
Plainclothes cops greet him
Small town, big man, fresh lipstick glistening
Sophomore jive
From victims of typewriters
The band sounds like typewriters
The big man he's not listening
His eyes hold Edith
His left hand holds his right
What does that hand desire
That he grips it so tight

Edith in the ring
The passed over girls are conferring
The man with the diamond ring is purring
All claws for now withdrawn
One by one they bring
His renegade stories to her
His crimes and his glories to her
In challenge they look on
Women he has taken grow old too soon
He tilts their tired faces
Gently to the spoon

Edith in his bed
A plane in the rain is humming
The wires in the walls are humming
Some song some mysterious song
Bars in her head
Beating frantic and snowblind
Romantic and snowblind
She says his crime belongs
Edith and the Kingpin
Each with charm to sway
Are staring eye to eye
They dare not look away
You know they dare not look away

© 1975;

Guitar Transcriptions of Edith And The Kingpin

Edith And The Kingpin has been recorded by 50 others

  • Beddiar, Mohamed  (- 2013)
  • BlueMotelRoom (- )
  • Borzym, Monika  (from "Back To The Garden" - 2016)
  • Bullenbush Band (from "Walthamstow Market" - 1987)
  • Carmina (from "Landmarks" - 2016) [buy at Amazon]
  • Casazza, Carlos (from "El Perro Buda" - 2017) [buy at Amazon]
  • Chill (from "Chill-Out Jazz" - 2011)
  • Costello, Elvis (from "A Tribute To Joni Mitchell" - 2007)
  • Costello, Elvis (from "(live performance)" - 2001)
  • D*Note Featuring Beth Hirsch (from "Laguna" - 2006)
  • Dee, Charlie (from "A Tribute To Joni Mitchell Live At Kriterion" - 2009)
  • Didderen, Jo  (from "Songs for My Father" - 2012) [buy at Amazon]
  • Elvis Costello & Herbie Hancock (- 2009)
  • Emma Lee and Ben Cohen  (from "I wished for you" - )
  • Fleisher, Julian (- )
  • Gardot, Melody (- )
  • Gervais, Lorraine  (from "A World Apart" - 2007)
  • Hancock, Herbie (from "River - The Joni Letters" - 2007)
  • Isabel Pane' & Orchestra Città di Praia a Mare (from "What the World Needs Now" - 2017) [buy at Amazon]
  • Jack Grassel & Jill Jensen (from "Jack & Jill Jazz " - 2011) [buy at Amazon]
  • Jacob, Reece (- 2012)
  • Johnson, Ellen  (from "too good to title" - 1993)
  • Kadoos (from "Joni Goes Dutch" - 2014)
  • Kaufmann, Denise  (from "Dream Flight" - 1976)
  • Lahm, David (from "Jazz Takes on Joni Mitchell" - 1999)
  • Laura Angyal Guitar Trio (- 2017)
  • Lesjuly (- 2015)
  • LRK Trio (- )
  • Luccarelli, Pamela (- 2012)
  • MacFarlane, Thom (from "Longtime" - 1997)
  • Michael, George (from "John And Elvis Are Dead" - 2004)
  • Monaghan, Liv  (from "Bird&Bass II" - 2015)
  • Morgenroth, Otis  (- 2017)
  • Nesmith, Josh (from "Josh Nesmith Audio DEMO" - 2015)
  • Nixon, Damian (- 2007)
  • Plough, Alonzo Louis (from "Whisper Not" - 2014) [buy at Amazon]
  • Rooftopmusik (- 2009)
  • Rose, Tim (- 2009)
  • Shaw, Ian (from "Drawn To All Things" - 2006)
  • Su, Sammii (- 2015)
  • The Aleta Greene Band (- )
  • The Alex Cross Quintet  (from "AXQ" - 2014)
  • The Fourth Stream (from "The Fourth Stream" - 2004)
  • Threefold (- )
  • Throne Vault Productions (from "COVERS!" - 2016)
  • Tim Rose and Andy Philip (- 2012)
  • Tollar, Yvette  (from "Ima" - 2008)
  • Walker, Andy (from "Rosemary's Songs" - 2013) [buy at Amazon]
  • Wilber, Jason (from "Echoes" - 2016) [buy at Amazon]
  • Winston, Eleonor (- )
  • [more information on recordings by other artists]

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MargaretLee on

I've always wondered, too. Here's what I found online:

"Edith" in this song was inspired by the famous French singer Edith Piaf.
In an interview with Mojo magazine February 2008, Joni Mitchell was discussing her songwriting: "Sometimes you write about the exact thing you saw, but other times you take something that happened over here and put it with something over there. In 'Edith And The Kingpin,' part of it is from a Vancouver pimp I met and part of it is Edith Piaf. It's a hybrid, but all together it makes a whole truth."

crookedarrow on

Can anyone inform me about the origin of this song? Who was the King Pin? Thx

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