Saturday, March 25, 2006

Eagle Grins

This morning, I called my bank; spoke to a pleasant woman in Birmingham. I told her I had to transfer some money from savings to my checking account. She said she’d be glad to help me with the transaction. I replied that I had to pay some bills but I’d much rather “hold on to those dollars ‘til the eagles grinned.”

She laughed – and said she’d never heard that phrase before.

I had to set my wayback machine. John Lennon wrote the song from which this line came, although the best cover ever has to be the version by Judy Henske. I still have it (on a Whiskey Hill Singers LP?) around here somewhere. It was such a rough-throated rendition, I felt like it was a Depression-era song. I read somewhere she’s a grandmother now, still singing.

So for the lady in that Birmingham call center, here are the lyrics:

Once I lived a life of a millionaire,
Spend all my money, didn’t have any care.
Took all my friends out for a mighty good time,
We bought bootleg liquor, champagne and wine.

Then I began to fall so low,
Lost all my good friends and nowhere to go.
If I get my hands on a dollar again,
I'll hang on to it ‘til that ol’ eagle grins

Because nobody loves you,
When you’re down and out,
In your pocket not one penny,
And as for friends you don’t have many.

When you get back on your feet again,
Everybody wants to be your long lost friend.
I said it’s strange without any doubt,
Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.

The song is sad. The memory is laughter.


Fusillo said...

Brownie McGhee and Sonny Teryy, as well as Big Bil Broonzy, recorded this in theforties -- it is probably older.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

He's right - see the post above. Sorry.

SG said...

whats the meaning of that phrase: to the eagle grins...

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Good morning, Sandra. thanks for your note. The phrase "hold on to it 'til the eagle grins" refers to the act (metaphorical) of holding on to (squeezing) the US dollar bill so tightly that the American eagle printed on the back of it "grins." In other words, not going to let the money fly out of my hands this time.

Does this help?