Monday, 25 February 2013

My Top Ten Tramp Songs

This Top Ten is specifically about hobos, bums and "gentlemen of the road". Not any other kind of tramps. We'll get to them. 

Special mention for The Trammps, Supertramp, The Drifters and The Vagrants... and Bruce, of course, because tramps like us, baby we were...

10. Cat Stevens - The Tramp
The only bed he knows is the floor...
9. The Hollies - Lonely Hobo Lullaby

Classic mid-70s ballad from the Hollies, sadly never a hit.

8. Stereophonics - More Life In A Tramp's Vest

Remember when the Stereophonics had potential? Every time I listen to a track from that superb debut album, I shake my fist at the sky and scream, "WHAT HAPPENED!?!"

7. Thea Gilmore - Brother, Can You Spare Me A Dime?

Written back in the "great" depression, recorded by everyone from Bing Crosby to George Michael to Mandy Pantikin (Saul from Homeland!) but it's Thea's version that breaks my heart.

6. Terry Bush - Maybe Tomorrow

You'll know this better as the theme tune to The Littlest Hobo.

Sorry, I've got something in my eye. 

5. Marah - My Heart Is The Bums On The Street

Probably my favourite song by Marah, though the live version on youtube doesn't really do it justice.

4. Frank Sinatra - The Lady Is A Tramp

OK, I'm bending the rules with this once, since the lady in question isn't without a home to call her own. Then again, neither is she that other kind of tramp. And let's face it, I could hardly leave it out. Although Frank's version is best, look who else recorded it...

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga

Frank & Ella 

William Shatner

Frank & Luther Vandross

etc. etc. etc.

3. Roger Miller - King Of The Road

He's a man of means, by no means. So are The Proclaimers.

And, if you've never heard it before, check out Jody Miller's response song, Queen of the House.

2. Otis Redding & Carla Thomas - Tramp

This came very close to hitting the top spot, and on any other day it might do. It's also one of my favourite men & women bickering songs (one day I'll compile a list), basically just one big argument between Otis and Carla, with some hilarious trash-talking and zinging comebacks. My favourite is the bit where Carla calls Otis a tramp for not being able to afford to buy her all those minks and sables and stuff she wants and Otis replies, "I can buy you minks, rats, frogs, squirrels, rabbits, ...anything you want, woman." to which Carla comes back,  "Look, you can go out in the Georgia woods and find them, baby." Makes me smile every time I hear it.

It seems this was a subject close to Otis's heart. See also: Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out.

1. Cher - Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves

I seriously consider this to have one of the greatest first verses of any pop song ever written. 
I was born in the wagon of a travelling show
My momma had to dance for the money they'd throw
Papa would do whatever he could
Preach a little gospel, sell a couple of bottles of Dr. Good...
But what do I  know?

Which one are you taking with you when you hit the road, Jack?


  1. "The Days Of Pearly Spencer" was about a tramp, I recall.

    Whereas I prefer "Mist On A Monday Morning" by the Move.

    1. The Days of Pearly Spencer is legendary round these parts. I must find a way of working it into a list.

  2. Gypsies is the only Cher song that I have ever or will ever let grace my MP3 player. I'll split a bottle of Dr Good with you if you like.

    1. Sadly, my days of drinking with the good doctor are long behind me, but that means you can have my half too.

  3. Who would have thought Tramps would make such great song material...Cher for me everytime...happy childhood memories. Why didn't Supertramp make an appropriate song?

    1. Living outside wouldn't be particularly logical when it's raining again.

  4. He's a Tramp (bun ba bun wuff) breaks a new heart everyday. Apparently Peggy Lee sang it. I had no idea until I just looked up who did but how HOW Rol? Could you miss the 'Bun ba bum wuff' classic. You really are tres bad at your Disney!

    1. I blame Walt's cryogenically frozen head for not reminding me. He's obviously too busy buying Star Wars films.

  5. What? No theme song from The Littlest Hobo ?

    1. Doh. Ignore me Rol, I am losing the plot... which probably explains why I've done so little writing lately (ba-doom tish).

  6. A bit late to this list I know, but I just purchased Daisies of the Galaxy by the Eels, which I am really enjoying, but the song "Something is Sacred" came up as a possibility for this list:

    Taking a walk down to the mall/Smelling piss and beer and gas/That could be me in a couple years/Suckin' fumes under the highway pass/On a rainy day/While i wear newspaper for pants/And a t-shirt that says
    "damn i'm good"

    And, can I also say, what about Seasick Steve's entire back catalogue :)

    1. Yeah, Seasick Steve should have merited a mention.

      I love Daisies of the Galaxy but I'd forgotten E's brief dalliance with hobohood!


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