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San Francisco Mabel Joy

Mickey Newbury
Language: English

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The 33rd of August
(Mickey Newbury)


Mickey Newbury
Lord, his daddy was an honest man, just a red dirt Georgia farmer
His momma lived her short life having kids and baling hay
He had fifteen years and he ached inside to wander
He jumped a freight in Waycross and wound up in L.A

Cold nights had no pity on that Waycross Georgia farm boy
Most days he went hungry, then the summer came
He met a girl known on the strip as San Francisco's Mabel Joy
Destitution's child born of an L.A. street called Shame

Growing up came quietly in the arms of Mabel Joy
Laughter found their mornings, it brought a meaning to his life
Lord on the night before she left
Sleep came and left that Waycross country boy
With dreams of Georgia cotton and a California wife

Sunday morning found him standin' 'neath the red light at her door
A right cross sent him reeling, put him face down on the floor
In place of his Mabel Joy he found a merchant mad marine
Who growled, "Your Georgia neck is red but Sonny, you're still green"

He turned twenty-one in a gray rock federal prison
The old judge had no mercy for that Waycross Georgia boy
Staring at those four gray walls in silence, Lord, he just listened
To that midnight freight he knew could take him back to Mabel Joy


Sunday morning found him lying 'neath the red light at her door
With a bullet in his side, he cried "Have you seen Mabel Joy?"
Stunned and shaken someone said "Son, she don't live here no more
No, she left this house four years today, they say she's looking for some Georgia farm boy"

Contributed by L. E. - 2021/4/23 - 11:31



Language: Italian

Traduzione italiana di L. E.
SAN FRANCISCO MABEL JOY

Suo padre era un uomo onesto,proprio un povero contadino dal collo rosso della Georgia *
E sua madre ha passato la sua giovane vita a fare figli e a imballare fieno
Aveva 15 anni e dentro un doloroso desiderio di andare in giro
Cosi' a Waycross salto' su un treno merci e fini' a L. A.

Signore , le freddi notti non ebbero pieta' di un giovane agricoltore di Waycross Georgia
Per gran parte dei giorni soffri' la fame e poi venne l'estate.
Ha incontrato una ragazza conosciuta sul luogo come San Francisco Mabel Joy
Una fanciulla senza nulla, figlia di una strada di L. A. chiamata “vergogna “

La crescita prosegui' tranquillamente nelle braccia di Mabel Joy
Il sorriso ritrovato nelle loro mattine aveva dato un significato alla sua esistenza
Si' , la notte prima che lei se ne ando' sopraggiunse il sonno e lascio' quel giovane di Waycross ,Georgia , con i sogni del cotone della Georgia e di una moglie della California.
Una domenica mattina si trovo' che stava sotto la luce rossa alla sua porta
Quando un tiro incrociato di destro lo spedi' a rotoli e mando' la sua faccia giu' sul pavimento
Invece di Mabel Joy aveva trovato un marinaio pazzo della marina mercantile
Che grugni' “ Il tuo collo della Georgia è rosso , ma caro fanciullo tu sei ancora verde “
Compi' i 21 anni in una prigione federale di grigia roccia
Il vecchio giudice non ebbe misericordia per un giovane di Waycross , Georgia
Fissando quelle 4 mura grigie in silenzio stava a sentire
Quel treno merci della mezzanotte ** che sapeva che lo avrebbe riportato da Mabel Joy

Una domenica mattina si trovo' che stava sotto la luce rossa alla sua porta
Con una pallottola nel fianco , e gridava “ Avete visto Mabel Joy ? “
Qualcuno attonito e scosso disse : “ Ma lei non è piu' qui,
Ha lasciato questa casa oggi 4 anni fa , dicono che sta cercando un certo giovane contadino della Georgia “
* La traduzione letterale di"red dirt Georgia farm" è "rosso sporco contadino della Georgia "; "red" si riferisce al colore del collo esposto ai raggi solari durante il lavoro e "red neck "e il soprannome usato, anche in senso spregiativo ,di un operaio bianco, conservatore e talvolta razzista , degli stati del sud degli Stati Uniti, cosi' povero da non potersi permettere l'aiuto di collaboratori o dipendenti ,un coltivatore diretto,un campesino,che pratica una agricoltura di pura sussistenza.

** "midnight freight" è un termine che nella tradizione del Blues fa riferimento alla leggenda che se un detenuto avesse visto le luci del treno merci della mezzanotte avrebbe potuto sperare di uscire di prigione.
( v. ad es. Midnight Train di Harry Belafonte )

Contributed by L. E. - 2021/4/27 - 19:17


What exactly happened in Mickey Newbury's "San Francisco Mabel Joy?"
Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Folknik, Mar 28, 2018.


Folknik
Forum Resident
Thread Starter
Location:Walhalla, SC, United States



"San Francisco Mabel Joy" is one of Mickey Newbury's most brilliantly crafted songs. It tells a story, but one of the most remarkable things about it is that it leaves certain things out of the narrative and makes us read between the lines. However, I find parts of it rather unclear.
1. After hopping a freight train in Waycross, GA and winding up in L.A., a 16-year-old farm boy finds comfort in the arms of Mabel Joy who is obviously a prostitute (as evidenced by the references to "the red light at her door").
"On the night before she left, sleep came and left that Waycross country boy with dreams of Georgia cotton and a California wife." Why did she leave and where did she go?
2. "Sunday morning found him standing 'neath the red light at her door.
Right cross sent him reelin', put him face down on the floor.
In place of his Mabel Joy he found a merchant mad marine,
Who growled,'Your Georgia neck is red but, sonny, you're still green."
Who was the "merchant mad marine?" A pimp? A john? A jealous lover? The man she ran away from? An officer of the law who busted the house?
3. "He turned 21 in a gray rock federal prison." Why did he go to prison? For being underage and visiting a house of ill repute? Did he get up and kill that "merchant mad marine?"
4. "Sunday morning found him lying 'neath the red light at her door.
With a bullet in his side, he cried, 'Have you seen Mabel Joy?'
Stunned and shaken,someone said, 'Son, she don't live here no more.
She left this house 4 years ago. They say she's looking for some Georgia farm boy.' "
I take that to mean he was shot in the side while escaping from prison.
Either way, it's a classic tragic ballad, and the way the ghostly choir swells up behind the final words of the song (and the last words the poor boy ever heard), "They say she's looking for some Georgia farm boy", never fails to send a chill down my spine. Thoughts or interpretations?

L. E. - 2021/4/28 - 16:56



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