Downtown Blues

lb young turks

photo by Monique Safford from "Young Turks," a film by Stephen Seemayer

This is a song I wrote and recorded in 1983 for Issue #23 of High Performance, a vinyl LP called “Artists Doing Songs.” Guitar is by the late Jimmy Townes.

The lyrics refer to the downsides of living in an artist loft. I lived for 8 years in a furniture warehouse at 240 S. Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. The plumbing, and everything else, was rudimentary, but we had a lot of fun in that place and that’s where High Performance was born. All concrete, no heat.

I actually loved living like this.



Downtown Blues

I’m hungry but there’s nothing open. The kerosene’s all gone.
I woke up this morning and the lights were all still on.
You came in about 4 a.m. with some guys from a leather bar
And now my stereo is broken and I can’t find my car.
You promised me I’d be happy if I moved up here with you.
Now I got the downtown wintertime Sunday morning blues.

The pipes are full of Fixall. The water heater’s broke.
Your grant came in last weekend and you spent it all on coke.
My parents were here on Sunday and my daddy like to died.
My mama sat down on that smelly old couch and she cried & cried & cried.
I promised them they’d be happy if I moved up here with you.
Now they got the downtown wintertime Sunday morning blues.

We’re living off a hot plate. We got roaches we got rats.
It’s so damn cold we watch TV in our mittens and our hats.
The ceiling’s leaking something and I don’t know what it is
But it’s dripping on your brother in that sleeping bag of his.
The elevator’s down again and there won’t be no repairs.
Now you want me to carry drywall up seven flights of stairs.

You know my daddy told me, You need a car if you’re downtown.
I put a Ford in the parking lot: They stripped it to the ground.
I came down here to this local joint just to try to stay alive.
Some guy comes up, puts his hand up my skirt and says, How about 25?
You know I lost everything I ever had. Nothing left to lose
But them downtown wintertime Sunday morning blues.


240 S. Broadway

240 S. Broadway, Downtown Los Angeles, where I lived 1976-1982, fifth floor. "Bride and Groom" mural by Kent Twitchell


Anthony Quinn mural

The other side of the 240 S. Broadway building. "The Pope of Broadway" mural by Eloy Torrez



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