You can count yourself lucky if you have no idea what “blue bags with red letters” might be, but I think you’ll get the idea from the lyrics to this song nonetheless. Within certain circles, the stamp bag1 is a common form of packaging powdered goods… at least in New York and other high-traffic cities. A small envelope, often blue in my day, stamped with red letters which spell out the name of the dealer/batch the contents are from.

I do my best never to write blatantly drug-related lyrics. I try to use metaphor and a little imagination to create imagery which people who have “been there” can relate to, while still being meaningful to those who don’t have such self-destructive proclivities. This is an older song of mine, and marks the beginning of this lyrical “rule” for me. I may not have nailed it, but I think it was a good start.

The guitar in this song is the first acoustic I picked up when I started this new leg of my life, and its sound is far from beautiful. The bass is a dumpster find from my punk rock days, recorded through a direct box, and has a sound I would call “trashy,” if you’ll excuse the pun. All told, though, I rather like the final product, and hope you do, too.

I’m posting the lyrics after the player, as this is an older recording and I don’t think my mix on the vocals was optimal for making out all of the words. I’m going to go back and add lyrics to the others in this series as well, when I get a chance.

Blue Bags

Blue Bags

He said "I've got the blue bags with the red letters, and
You can look away but don't you ever tell me never,
for a buck and a quarter, man, I'll do you better,
you can walk away but don't you ever tell me never"

And I know... I think my brain is trying to kill me

And in the blue bags with the red letters I found her
Her skin was brown I pulled her down I tried to drown her
I gave her a single lonely red rose before I took her in
And now she's dancing in my veins

I can't restrain
I can't refrain
I can't refrain from pain
I think my brain is trying to kill me

And in the blue bags with the red letters I gave in
It's dark in here it smells like death and it feels like heaven
And here I am now waiting, waiting on the corner again
Waiting for those blue bags and everything's forgiven

Because that's the world we're living in
And every day we're giving in
We wallow in and dying in
I think my brain is trying to kill me

I gave her a red rose every time I saw her
She drags me down she bleeds me dry and still I call her
And in a blue sea on a red ship I saw her
Sailing for my heart

On a red ship in a blue sea
Can't remember why I feel this need
I only know what's plain to see
I think my brain is trying to kill me

And on a blue arm in red letters still drying
We wrote a song about freedom and dying
Because some of us find freedom and some of us find death
And some of us, we have to steal our own last breath

Because some of us we find our way out, some of us die trying
These are the words she breathed to me as she lay dying
She said, I'm drowning in blue bags with red letters
I'm drowning in blue bags with red letters
I'm drowing, I'm drowing...

  1. Curious? See this article