Walking Down Madison

Written by Kirsty MacColl and Johnny Marr

Chords

Chords for Walking Down Madison, transcribed by Alan Officer from Walking Down Madison – sheet music.

Lyrics

Walking down Madison
I swear I never had a gun
No I never shot no-one
I was only having fun
Walking down Madison
Swear I never had a gun
I was philosophizing some
Checking out the bums

See you give ‘em your nickels, your pennies and dimes
But you can’t give ‘em hope in these mercenary times, oh no
And you feel real guilty about the coat on your back
And the sandwich you had, oh no

From an uptown apartment to a knife on the “A” train
It’s not that far
From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement
It’s not that far
To the bag lady frozen asleep in the park
Oh no it’s not that far

Would you like to see some more?
I can show you if you’d like to

Walking down Madison
I swear I never had a gun
No I never shot no-one
Wouldn’t do it just for fun
Walking down Madison
Trying to keep my head screwed on
I was philosophizing some
Checking out the nuns
When you get to the corner don’t look at those freaks
Keep your head down low and stay quick on your feet, oh yeah

The beaming boy from Harlem with the airforce coat
The ones who died
The ones who tried
The ones that sit and gloat

From an uptown apartment to a knife on the “A” train
It’s not that far
From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement
It’s not that far
To the bag lady frozen asleep on the church steps
It’s not that far

Would you like to see some more?
I can show you if you’d like to

Within every city and town there’s a Madison
Frozen lives for whom nothing’s happening
Hungry children is a mother’s dilemma
Dumpster diving to feed her baby Emma
So you walk on by like it doesn’t affect you
The held out hand that you pay no respect to
Nickels and dimes won’t even buy your guilt
Another wino dead burnt to death in his quilt
It’s a cardboard city, newspaper metrapolis
The system can’t cope or keep on top of this
The outhorities come as you’re not for display
Do they solve the problem no they move him away
They’re in a vicious circle of no fixed abode
The social won’t pay ‘em the money they’re owed
When you got no money you can’t pay rent
Hypothermia kills ‘cos the system is bent

From an uptown apartment to a knife on the “A” train
It’s not that far
From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement
It’s not that far
To the bag lady frozen asleep in the park
It’s not that far

Would you like to see some more?
I can show you if you’d like to

From an uptown apartment to a knife on the “A” train
It’s not that far
From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement
It’s not that far
To the bag lady frozen asleep on the church steps
It’s not that far

Would you like to see some more?
I can show you if you’d like to

In the subway sits a vacuous man
His grip on life is a bent tin can
It’s a holy shrine where he burns his light
It makes things easy and removes his plight
For an hour or two but he can’t escape
They’re all penned in with government tape
There are good samaritans who bring them soup
The sally army with their bibles and boots
You can see yourselves it’s not too far
One short trip you don’t know who they are
Till the night comes then it all comes back
Like the smell of patchoulli and the armies of rats
It’s a shame to be human it’s a human shame
It seems we’ve forgotten we’re one and the same

One and the same
One and the same
No it’s not too far
No it’s not too far
We’re one and the same

Commentary

Spending a lot of time in New York City, Walking Down Madison’ was cut at its Electric Lady Studio. “I wrote the lyrics when I was working in New York. I couldn’t find the right musical approach for ages, I tried writing stuff and asked some other people to try, but it never worked until I got a tape through the post with some ideas from Johnny Marr. The minute I heard his guitar I dug out the lyrics and sussed out a melody”. From a gentle instrumental piece of guitar play, Johnny’s demo was suddenly transformed into a furious trip through the downtrodden streets of NYC, with MC Aniff Cousins laying down a heavy commentary. ‘Madison’ was released in a variety of differently textured mixes, and became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, charting in the UK at No. 23.

The Salvo 2012 release claims to have additional production but this is hard to spot. Some other CD reissued versions all have a somewhat flattened dynamic range compared to a test rip from my original vinyl LP copy (giving them that punchier sound) but I can’t detect any difference between these. ‘Ye Olde Original Mix’ is quite evidently a different mix from the original LP version.

Cover Versions and Appearances on Various Artists CDs

Esza Kaye - Walking Down Madison
Esza Kaye – Walking Down Madison

Esza Kaye released a LEX remix with DJ Eddie X and Luigie Gonzalez. Her MySpace profile lists her as Alternative / Gothic / Electronica.

Personal Effects (Iain Banks)
Personal Effects (Iain Banks)

The song appears on a CD of favourites (‘Personal Effects’) by novelist Iain Banks. He set out to compile an ideal driving tape and was thrilled to get paid for doing something he’s always done for fun.

Kirsty Songs

Other People's Songs