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Joey by Concrete Blonde

Album: BloodlettingReleased: 1990Charted:
19
  • This song is about being in love with an alcoholic. Concrete Blonde lead singer Johnette Napolitano wrote it about Marc Moreland of the band Wall Of Voodoo - the bands played many of the same Los Angeles venues in the '80s. Moreland died of liver failure in 2002; Napolitano discussed Moreland and writing the song about him in a concert known as the "D.C. Sessions." (thanks, Michael - Cleveland, OH)
  • The lyrics to this song didn't come easy, as they were very personal and intense. In our interview with Johnette Napolitano, she told the story: "We did a demo with no lyrics. It was just like scratchy vocals, just me making sounds, basically, where I knew the melody would go. And right away everybody reacted to it. There weren't any lyrics, but there was something about the music that everybody really reacted to. And so we went to England to record the record with Chris Tsangarides, our producer. I knew what I wanted to say, but I wasn't looking forward to saying it. And so it was the last vocal that I recorded.

    And I remember Chris every day, 'Do we have vocals to 'Joey' yet? Do we have words to 'Joey' yet?' And I'm like, 'Not yet.' So I literally wrote them in a cab. I knew what I was going to say, it's just a matter of like a cloud's forming and then it rains. The lines are forming in my head and they're all in my head, and I know the chorus, and I know what I'm going to say. It's just a matter of fine tuning the details and how I'm going to lug it out. And then it rains. The clouds all formed and it rained. And then it happened. And that was it. And it was just there."
  • This is by far the biggest hit for Concrete Blonde, and their only one to make the Hot 100 (they have placed several songs on the Modern Rock charts). Johnette Napolitano has expressed little interest in hit singles or album sales, which led to tensions with the group's label, I.R.S. Records, which signed them in 1986. After five albums with I.R.S., including the gold-certified Bloodletting, the label offered them a deal where the group was sold to Capitol Records.

    The group still refused to serve the musical tastes of a wider audience, and they ended up on independent labels. These days, their artistic credibility is unquestioned, but at the time, they took some criticism for daring to have a hit song. Napolitano addressed this in a 1993 interview with Happening when she said: "People call that song a 'sell-out' only because it sold records. If I could intentionally write a Top 40 song, don't you think I would have done it on the first album?"
  • The video drove hope the alcoholic theme. It featured Napolitano with the band playing in a small club while one lone patron drinks to excess. It was the only Concrete Blonde song to receive significant airplay on MTV.
  • This was a #1 hit for 4 weeks on the US Modern Rock charts. It gained popularity as "alternative" music was coming into the mainstream and radio stations were looking for stuff like this to play. Finding female voices was particularly problematic for radio program directors in this era of Pearl Jam, so this song was a welcome addition to many playlists.
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Comments: 22

My friend Brittney is singing this for vocals.Emmy - Bellville, On
As a recovering alcoholic, I have a love/hate relationship with this song. I'm pissed at where I was but happy where I am. Took every drop to get there too.

Who's the guy in the video? Is it John Wesley Shipp?
TIA!
Mark - Jeffeson City, Mo, Mo
Johnette has never revealed the true Joey. The replies she has given to the question has varied from Marc Moreland to Joey Ramone. The truth be known it was a three month hot & heavy tryst with a younger man from some time spent out Eat in the late 80's. She has vowed to never reveal him as was not at all happy with the song at the time.Shoreh - Hollywood, Ca
Just watched johnette playing joey guitar solo blau hosen.It appears this is the same women that took a polaroid of me in my lobby a few years back. I followed her down the street till she got on a bus. What's up?Fred - Toronto, Cape Verde
This song has so many parralles with my life. Or am I hallucinating again. The Mason's wanted me to join in 1975. We know they are into anagrams my name if you use foil (a math term for first inside outside and last) gives you joey. The women of Toronto started to call me joey at the same time. A brunette of my youth the last words said to her were "you scare me" her girlfriends pushed her on me. It went way to far before I found out she was underaged, playing touchy feely. This same girl would destroy my life, she knocked on the door of the only women I would have asked to marry while I was at work. I was a drunk for at least 25 yrs. The guy in the video looks like me.
When I was about 25 I was the super of 40 apartments. The girls called me joey there also, I had my pick, but turned them all down, because I had a lady friend. I was painting the eaves one day and overheard about ten of them talking, he won't f--k me, he is gay for sure no man has turned me down for a blow job, a cattier bunch I have never met. They even said who is that brunette I've seen him with (that would have been the lady friend). See the way she throws herself at him, meanwhile they were all throwing themselves at me. Oh and thanks Julie for sticking up for me. Jez I even had my name in the women's washroom at the Young Station(bar), is he or is'nt he?
During my drinking I did not want a girlfriend why bring her down. And I was not the brightest some women would give me the eye and I would be looking over my shoulder, who she giving the goo goo eyes too. And ladies you don't know what it's like having 10 or 20 of you saying pick me, pick me. I feel like a piece of meat.
Anyway I learned at an early age women talk out of school, where as men do not. And it does not matter what women say about you as long as they are talking. And boy do I get them talking the stories I have fabricated are huge beyond belief. As far as money goes they can keep it the poor are the best class of people. And as another comment suggests, hard headed women has been a thorn in the side of man. Some women say that one got away but I will get him before I die. Enough said.
Fred - Toronto, Cape Verde
If there is one thing I understand well it is hurt people.She knows she was enabling him and tried to leave and do the right thing.No guesses "don't get crazy" he went crazy.She couldn't let go and,he was hurting her and himself.He was well once,she hoped it would happen again.The things we know are best,are not always the easiest things to do.My heart goes out to her,I know exactly how she felt.Letting go and holding on to someone you love,can be more excruciating than you ever thought possible.Amanda - Riverton, Wy
People would get me out of the house and/or pool because my song would be onDiane - Gananoque, On
do they still play the video. its been like 15 years since i've seen it!Mel!ssa - Pittsburgh, Pa
Somebody said: "The video featured Napolitano with the band playing in a small club while one lone patron drinks to excess". However, the lone patron never touches the bottle in front of him.Timmy P - Cleveland, Oh
A song about two people who should not be in love and perhaps aren't. Probably more Joey's fault than hers, but it's never one hundred percentDan - Stockton, Ca
Passionate as hell, one of the best vocals, ever.Eddie - Philadelphia, Wa
Someone once dedicated this song to me after I explained and proved her wrong about what it actually meant. She thought it was about a couple who were scared to love one another. As if the lyrics are not clear enough..."hard headed women's been a thorn in the side of a man ever since the world began."The Last Dj - Hell.a., Ca
Is it just me, or does Johnette Nopanitano have one of the most sensual, female singing voices EVER???Bobpape - Austin, Tx
The song was written about Marc Moreland, the former guitarist for Wall of Voodoo. I heard it straight from Johnette Napolitano's mouth during a concert.Michael - Cleveland, Oh
It's about being in love with someone that's not perfect. In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Ever. You know very well that this person was not a fictional character. She was in love.Brian - Gregory, Mi
This song was not written about a fictional character. Joey was, and still is, a washed up drug addict in Dallas, TX. He was a roadie for bands in the 80s and 90s, and had relations with Johnette Napolitano, the singer of Concrete Blonde.Bryan - Longview, Tx
What a perfect rendition of the effects alcoholsim takes on a person involved from the outside... my heart goes out for this song in apprecitation for what she felt when writing it.Scott - Columbus, Oh
To me the lyrics not only portray someone who is living with an alcoholic (or addict), but also a person who is an enabler who will do anything to allow the other to be happy. Specifically, the line "I've got the money..." tells me this enabler will beg, borrow or steal to provide for "Joey's" habit.Jeffrey - Dowagiac, Mi
The live acoustic version of "Joey" on the 'Still In Hollywood' compilation is marvelous. At the end of the chorus, Johnette several times has to modulate her voice because she's out of breath. The effect, however accidental, makes her sound heartbreakingly vulnerable.Robert - Puyallup, Wa
A really good song. It's my favourite by them. Yeah it was not written for Joey Ramone. Joey is just a fictional character made up to tell the story of being in love with an alcoholic.John - Stephenville Crossing, Canada
was NOT written about Joey Ramone of the RamonesKris - Toronto, Canada
Was written about Joey Ramone of the Ramones.Michele - Warren, Mi