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DOWN ON CHIPPEWA
Notes on Song writing

Chord Chart
AUDIO/LYRIC

Down on Chippewa, in a neon bar
With all the lights aglow, I feel as though I am a prisoner of this avenue
Where life is so expendable
As I straighten up to walk tall
I see it all, I see it all

I see the dancing monkey in the moonlight
And the brutal sea captain
Oh port of call, He's seen them all

Down on Chippewa, where these two blocks
Are a red light holiday, they fade away
And as the big bulldozer rumbles
Chippewa street crumbles
And if we wait until then
They'll build it again
They'll build it again

Copyright 1983 & 2006


NOTES ON SONG WRITING Back to top ^

Written in 1982 for The Thirds album 'Songs from the City Line' this little folk rock number also appeared in regular rotation in the Thirds set list. As time passed and the real Chippewa Street in downtown Buffalo NY morphed to a new life as an entertainment destination, I thought it an odd coincidence. A premonition of urban renewal was not the direct message in the song however. My first intention was to place a song unambiguously, in Buffalo, New York. My creative thoughts started with the Niagara River and moved inland about a mile to Chippewa Street. I knew the song should have bit of a 'skip the light fandango' air to the lyric. It was brought to my attention that the lyric 'dancing monkey in the moonlight' was also strangely coincidental as there was a locally famous old bar on Chippewa Street with a monkey in the window, this according to Buffalo musical historian Mike Meldrum. My original idea was to write a song about the death of the Niagara River from pollutants. But before long I decided that was not happening lyrically. So I just closed my eyes and imagined a very intoxicated version of myself moving through Chippewa's dreamy landscape.

As older teens, my high school chums and I would leave the comfort and safety of our suburban homes and bar hop Chippewa and Allen streets in Buffalo on occasional Friday nights to get a good feel for her skid-row street life.

At age 20 I had a steady gig for a whole summer playing at a topless bar on Chippewa Street called 'Cirro's'. It was quite an experience, and I think I may have been drawing on those thoughts when I set out to write this song twelve years later.


CHORD CHARTBack to top ^

The finger picked guitar part with a capo on the seventh fret is played in chord position C. The song' actual key is G.

View Chord Chart








The Blue Ox Band Hits collection Guitar Workshop The Gang of 15 Rocket 88 Totally Live Rocket 88 Blues Life Hot Guitars from Buffalo Lead Guitar Compilation The Thirds Anthology St. Teresa's Choir Poacher of Love/The Slump The Thirds Songs from the City Line Pass it On/Are you Still? The Stone Bridge Band
©2019 Charlie O’Neill