Jimmy the Shrew

July 5, 2008 6:47 AM

A song about a villain, written in 2000. Part of my Old Songs project.

I BELIEVE I originally wrote this song around 2000, but I don't remember precisely when. I do remember the circumstances that led to me writing the song, though: I was reading about old gangsters and their nicknames, and discovered that quite a few were called "So and So the Jew." "Lenny the Jew." "Vinnie the Jew." So I wrote a song called "Jimmy the Jew" about a menacing underworld figure, and it stayed that was for a while. In fact, I remember performing it at Balls Cabaret in the Twin Cities on one of the very few occasions when I performed my own music in public.

A few years later, in 2004, when I had moved to Omaha and was writing my Tales of Tom Hopper, I got the idea to include a character who basically served the same function as a protection racket. Since this was in the world of animals, I called him Jimmy the Shrew, changed the lyrics to the song, and made it his theme song. So, in the story, when the shrew sings about himself, this is what he's singing.


There's a snarl under my waxed mustache
And a strange stain on my shoe
I carry with me a bottle of vitriol
They call me Jimmy the Shrew
They call me Jimmy the Shrew

There's not a dollar I don't own a piece of
Or a cruelty I don't do
Every scar here bears my name dear
They call me Jimmy the Shrew
They call me Jimmy the Shrew

There's a block on Delancey
That is where I hang my hat
The streets here they are slick with blood
And I'm the reason for that

Run your hands through my silky hair dear
I got a smile for you
They'll find nothing but your shredded stocking
They call me Jimmy the Shrew
They call me Jimmy the Shrew

posted by Astro Zombie (2 comments total)

Nice song
posted by nonamehifi at 7:36 AM on July 5, 2008

The thing that really sticks out at me here is that I expect the chord under "shrew" to be minor. It makes things feel a bit unsettled to end on that dominant chord, which seems appropriate for this song.

Lyrically, I think this is my favorite of the Old Songs so far. Nice work!
posted by danb at 10:57 AM on July 5, 2008

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