NIGHTTOWN BOY

"Just after dark, to steal some more..."




Part of the Annotated Lyrics Horslips Pages

Appears On - Covered By - Source Tune - Recordings of Traditional Tune - General Notes from Albums - Annotated Lyrics - Comments



Don't try to play the fool
That's not my game.
You know I came because I'm cool.

Silver keys are in my hand.
They open doors
To worlds that you won't understand.

Cos I'm a little Nighttown Boy
And I bet that you can't satisfy
A little lonely Nighttown Boy
Who might try to make you cry
With the hint of romance in his eye.
A little lonely Nighttown Boy.

Big girls should never cry.
Caught red-handed's
Not the time to come on shy.

False face against your door,
I'm calling back just after dark
to steal some more.

Cos I'm a little Nighttown Boy
And I bet that you can't satisfy
A little lonely Nighttown Boy
Who might try to make you cry
With the hint of romance in his eye.
A little lonely Nighttown Boy.

Nighttown Boy don't need no invitation
He gets his lovin' on the run.
Nighttown Boy don't need no confrontation
You call it kicks but he calls it fun.

Never try to stare me down.
You may have cash, but I've got flash
I've been around.

Some say we're easy meat.
But Nighttown Boys can slide and slide
On graceful feet.

Cos I'm a little Nighttown Boy
And I bet that you can't satisfy
A little lonely Nighttown Boy
Who might try to make you cry
With the hint of romance in his eye.
A little lonely Nighttown Boy.


Appears On:

  1. Dancehall Sweethearts
  2. Horslips, The Best of
  3. Treasury, The Very Best of Horslips

Covered By:

  1. Horslypse, Omagh Tribute band

Source Tune:

Bill Harte's Favorite, jig. Also known as Bill Harte's / Bill Hartes / Port Liam Uí Airt / Tom Hearte's / Sonny Brogan's (also in Major, also in A) (also as slide?)...Breathnach (1976) notes the tune was not original with source Harte, and that it was related to "Bímid ag ól [1]," "Jackson's Humours of Panteen" and "Huish the Cat."* [Emphasis mine]

Andrew Kuntz, The Fiddler's Companion, www.ibiblio.org

*CBH lyric pages will link to Huish the Cat page when built.

Recordings of Traditional Tune (After Horslips)

  1. Joe Burke, Andy McGann, and Felix Dolan, A Tribute to Michael Coleman
  2. Kevin Henry, One's Own Place - A Family Tradition
  3. Various, Unsorted

General Notes from Albums:

James Joyce meets Bill Harte's Favourite in Dublin's notorious turn of the century red light district. Truly a mixed metronome.

Notes on Horslips, The Best Of..., Edsel Records

Red light gossip informs Nighttown Boy, lustful shout from a locality charted by Mr. James Joyce, himself a fine tenor, who quite possibly was familiar with the underlying musical motif Bill Harte's Favorite.

Notes on Treasury, The Very Best of Horslips, Horslips Records

Annotated Lyrics:

"Nighttown"

The Mabbot street entrance of nighttown, before which stretches an uncobbled transiding set with skeleton tracks, red and green will-o'-the-wisps and danger signals. Rows of flimsy houses with gaping doors. Rare lamps with faint rainbow fans. Round Rabaiotti's halted ice gondola stunted men and women squabble. They grab wafers between which are wedged lumps of coal and copper snow. Sucking, they scatter slowly. Children. The swancomb of the gondola, highreared, forges on through the murk, white and blue under a lighthouse. Whistles call and answer.

James Joyce, Circe, Ulysses

Joyce's "Circe" chapter takes place in the red-light district of Dublin, or Nighttown as Joyce calls it. Bloom is on a mission to find Stephen and along the way the reader is subjected to Bloom's many bizarre hallucinations and heavy handed sexual comments made by the prostitutes on the street. After the longest hallucination scene of the chapter (the court room) Bloom finds himself at the steps of Bella Cohen's brothel. It is from this point on that the parallels between Joyce's Ulysses and Homer's Odyssey become the most apparent.

Erin Davis, Homeric Parallels in 'Circe'

This would have been written after The Táin and before June '74, during a hectic and exciting touring schedule. While not wishing to demystify the song in any way, it would seem to me that the dots can be joined up quite easily. At last I could celebrate being part of a curious demi-monde that had fascinated me for years, particularly since I began reading stories of The Beatles in Hamburg's Reeperbahn.

Around the time it was written, late '73- early '74, it seemed that certain rock bands were writing directly about their lifestyle experiences. Little Feat, Family and Lou Reed, of course, are just some who spring to mind. Until then I'd been writing in as personal a way as possible about events in the Táin saga. But there was other subject matter, other motifs, swirling about. Thanks to Joyce, I had a convenient location, simultaneously Irish and international, in which to place the teenage rebel with his vigour and his braggadocio.

I was attempting to reflect stuff I'd been witnessing first hand that seemed, to me, to have an air of desperation. The lyric was intended to be somewhat sinister, not altogether pleasant.

Eamon Carr, Interview to the site, 2010

I think it's fair to say too that without "Nighttown Boy", the ingredients of the "Ghostown" record (which I started writing in embryonic form in 1974) may never have achieved alchemy. A further link to "Monto" is that the Radiators borrowed part of the tune for the long guitar instrumental intro to our "Ghostown" version of "Faithful Departed", as a sort of musical scene-setter. Many listeners assumed we were playing a warped rewrite of "The Soldiers Song". Well, we weren't, but I can't say we didn't enjoy the ambiguity.

Philip Chevron, Interview to the site, 24 April 2005

Lyrics to Kitty Ricketts by the Radiators:

She's a carnal joy
For nighttown boys
Whose five o:clock shadow begins at midnight.
Full lyrics are still up for discussion at the Medusa Fora

The Irish folk song "Monto (Take Her Up To Monto)", written by George Desmond Hodnett in 1958 and popularised by The Dubliners, also details this historic Dublin district:

Well if you've got a wingo take me up to ringo
Where the waxies sing-o all the day
If you've had your fill of porter and you can't go any further
Then give your man the order back to the Quay.

Chorus:

And take her up to Monto, Monto, Monto,
Take her up to Monto, langeroo to you.
Full lyrics at Lyr Req: Monto / Take me up to Monto, mudcat.org

See also the etchings of Charles Cullen in "Nighttown."

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First Posted: 1 March, 2005
Last Revised: 9 October, 2010