Song Lyrics

Raised On Robbery

by Joni Mitchell

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He was sitting in the lounge of the Empire Hotel
He was drinking for diversion
He was thinking for himself
A little money riding on the Maple Leafs *
Along comes a lady in lacy sleeves
She says let me sit down
You know, drinkin' alone's a shame
It's a shame it's a crying shame
Look at those jokers
Glued to that damn hockey game
Hey honey-you've got lots of cash
Bring us round a bottle
And we'll have some laughs
Gin's what I'm drinking
I was raised on robbery

I'm a pretty good cook
I'm sitting on my groceries
Come up to my kitchen
I'll show you my best recipe
I try and I try but I can't save a cent
I'm up after midnight cooking
Trying to make my rent
I'm rough but I'm pleasin'
I was raised on robbery

We had a little money once
They were pushing through a four lane highway
Government gave us three thousand dollars
You should have seen it fly away
First he bought a '57 Biscayne *
He put it in the ditch
He drunk up all the rest
That son of a bitch
His blood's bad whiskey
I was raised on robbery

You know you ain't bad looking
I like the way you hold your drinks
Come home with me honey
I ain't asking for no full length mink
Hey, where you going
Don't go yet
Your glass ain't empty and we just met
You're mean when you're loaded
I was raised on robbery

© 1973; Crazy Crow Music

Footnotes to Raised On Robbery

"Maple Leafs"
Despite the fact that the plural of leaf is leaves, Joni wasn't being illiterate here. The male character in Raised On Robbery is watching a televised hockey game in the bar and has made a friendly wager on a Canadian team called the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The proud Leafs name goes back to their formation in 1927 when the team owners chose "a patriotic Maple Leaf as the team namesake and crest."

Because of the City of Toronto's important (and, some say, overbearing) role in the economy and culture of Canada, the Maple Leafs have been called both Canada's Team and "those #%&!*?$# Leafs."

Incidentally, betting on the Leafs anytime between 1967 (when they won their last Stanley Cup) and about 1999, would probably have been a losing proposition: the only thing proud about the Leafs during that long period was their heritage, not their on-ice performance.

"57 Biscayne"
Is Joni using an artistic license here? Chevrolet didn't even debut the Biscayne until 1958 (shown here), probably due to the success of the previous year's overall car sales. With 1,522,536 units sold in 1957, Chevy beat out Ford by 136 cars. Although their eventual popularity was certainly not predicted when they were first introduced, 1957 Chevrolet vehicles have become one of the most sought after model years of all vehicles.

Guitar Transcriptions of Raised On Robbery

Raised On Robbery has been recorded by 20 others

  • Aces & Eights (from "unreleased live recording" - )
  • Adams, Bryan & Wynonna Judd (from "An All-Star Tribute to Joni Mitchell (TV Broadcast)" - 2000)
  • Blue Shadows (from "On The Floor Of Heaven" - 2010)
  • Blue Tapestry (from "Blue Tapestry" - 2002)
  • Canadian Suite (from "Coast to Coast" - 2002)
  • Easton, Sheena (from "Live At The Palace, Hollywood (Video)" - 1982)
  • Jim Stringer & The Am Band (from "In My Hand" - 2004)
  • Kai, Carole (from "Let Me Love You" - 1978)
  • Kennedy, Sherry (from "Don't Wait" - 1996)
  • Matthew's Minstrels (from "Traditional Fare" - 1994)
  • Medley, Sue (from "(unreleased live performance)" - 1990)
  • Mesibov, Paul (- )
  • Miller, Betsy  (from "Becology" - 2013) [buy at Amazon]
  • Moxie (from "It Takes Moxie" - 2003)
  • Robin Adler & Mutts of the Planet (from "Joni Mitchell's Blue & Court And Spark - Live At Dizzy's" - 2011)
  • Sally Barker - Joni Mitchell Project (from "Conversation: The Joni Tapes" - 2010)
  • Smith, Sara (from "A Tribute To Joni Mitchell" - 1974)
  • The Bucknell Jazz & Rock Ensemble (from "Warm Winter Winds" - )
  • The Whims (from "Tuxedo Junction" - 1980)
  • TRAP (from "45 single" - 1976)
  • [more information on recordings by other artists]

Comments on Raised On Robbery

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bobconstans on

Not to quibble with Joni's official site, but since you can hear her clearly deviate from what is here at least once (an 's' on 'best recipe'S to rhyme with groceries), and since Joni is such a consummate song crafter, I just wonder is all.
Plus I always thought it was (appropriately enough) 'LOSING that damn hockey game' LOL

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