Song of the Barfly

Hey there now, mister, step into this bar;
I see by your face you’ve come from afar.
I’ll show you salvation under a star:
It’s that bright neon light you’ve been eyein’.

You’ve traveled a weary, worrisome road;
Been through more troubles than Job ever knowed;
Well, this here’s the place where comfort is stowed,
So sit down on that stool, and stop cryin’.

Some folks will tell you that liquor’s impure;
They’ve seen no hardships they’ve had to endure.
If life is your poison, I got the cure;
So let’s start with a beer: my throat’s dryin’.

Those teetotal fools have all been deceived
By clean-livin’ lies that can’t be believed.
So fill up your glass, and you’ll be reprieved.
Your soul needs the good stuff, ’cause it’s dyin’.

My gospel’s the bottle; it set me free.
Now I’m a preacher a-preachin’ on thee:
Sobriety’s sinnin’, plain as can be.
So I’ll have a whiskey, and you’re buyin’.


11 thoughts on “Song of the Barfly

  1. Charles Bukowski, I think it’s fair
    To call him a boozer extraordinaire.

    He was as resilient as they come
    To the effects of whisky, gin and rum.

    Mornings he must have felt like shite,
    God knows when he had the time to write *

    Booze-filled philosopher to the core
    With a mixer of tedious bar-room bore.

    Charles you were quite a co-nun-drum
    Rest easy you flaky bar-room bum.

    * or the energy


  2. This may give you an idea od CB. Below is from Wikipedia…

    “In 1986 Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife”.[6] Regarding Bukowski’s enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero”


  3. I’ve only read a book of short stories and his poems which are all extremely variable in quality.

    The good ones are good ( as FR Leavis might say )

    The Beeb made a documentary which shows Bukowski in all his “glory” . It would make a great double bill with “Beware of Mr. Baker” which shows another talented man prone to random violence.


    1. When responding to self-destructive artists like that, there’s a middle ground between censorious moralizing and the vapid celebration of excess and addiction. It ought to be the obvious position to take, but it’s amazing how many people prefer the alternatives.


  4. Responding 5 weeks later: I know a few artists who’ve taken the self-destructive route route.

    I think there’s a kind of superstition involved – my muse is bound up with my drinking. So to stop drinking/drugging is to stop making art. Of course what happens is that eventually if they carry on like that the artist becomes too addicted or incpacitated to actually make the art.

    Ian Hinchliffe was a supreme example – he was a performance artist of the 70’s and his shows veered wildly from the dreary to the utterly inspired. Often within the same show. The impetus was to make work that was spontaneous and for the space and situation it was in so the line between fiction and real life got blurred. Was this guy on stage playing someone who has fucked up or are we seeing someone fuck up for real?

    The quality often depended on how much he’d drunk., Sometimes he was too pissed to keep it together.


  5. Hi Ed. I think with people like that, the point is not allow any regret for the squandered talent to overshadow what the talent actually achieved. Shane MacGowan may have become a sad old piss-head, but he still wrote ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’ (the words, at least), which is more than most of us can say, piss-head or not.


  6. Speaking of self-destructive idiots Film4 showed Apocalypto by Mel Gibson last night.

    Have you seen it?

    It’s absolutely bonkers veering from the worst kind of racist cliche to pre-Avatar visions of tribal innocence to a lengthy and brilliant chase sequence which reminded me of the night-time/nightmare chapter in Blood Meridian.

    Mel is reliably sadistic throughout – unable to turn the camera away when something extremely brutal happens ( which is frequently ).

    He must have had some clout to be able to make a film with subtitles starring Native Americans few will have heard of.


  7. He’s not in it, he directed it.

    The cast are Mexicans and Native Americans speaking in an Aztec/Central American ancient language.

    It really is a strange one-of-a-kind film where Gibson as a director is unable to control his personal anxities and obsessions. The violence is over-done as if Mel wants to rub our noses in what he has decided to show us.

    I liked the first 2 Mad Max films and Year of Living Dangerously but he became unwatchable as an actor.


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