Concrete Blonde – Joey

Concrete Blonde – Joey

‘Joey’ is the ninth track from American alternative rock band Concrete Blonde's third studio album, Bloodletting (1990). The song was released in 1990 and was written and sung by the band's frontwoman, Johnette Napolitano. The song became the group's biggest hit, spending four weeks atop the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and crossing over to pop radio, reaching number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100; it remains their only charting song on the latter listing. Worldwide, ‘Joey’ reached number two in Australia, ending 1990 as the country's 16th-best-selling single, and peaked at number four on Canada's RPM 100 Hit Tracks chart, ranking in at number 53 on the magazine's year-end listing for 1990.

The song is sung from the perspective of a woman who is in love with an alcoholic. Napolitano mentioned in her book Rough Mix that the song was written about her relationship with Marc Moreland of the band Wall of Voodoo. In a 2013 interview with SongFacts, Napolitano described the process for writing ‘Joey’ as starting with a wordless melody, to which lyrics were eventually added. According to Napolitano, she avoided writing the lyrics to ‘Joey’ until the last possible moment due to the difficult nature of the subject matter. In her words, "I knew what I wanted to say, but I wasn't looking forward to saying it. 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."

The video drove home 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 four 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.


Label – I.R.S.
Songwriter – Johnette Napolitano
Producers – Chris Tsangarides, Concrete Blonde


[Verse 1]
Joey, baby
Don't get crazy
Detours, fences
I get defensive
[Chorus 1]
I know you've heard it all before
So I don't say it anymore
I just stand by and let you fight your secret war
And though I used to wonder why
I used to cry 'til I was dry
Still sometimes I get a strange pain inside
Oh, Joey, if you're hurting so am I
[Verse 2]
Joey, honey
I've got the money
All is forgiven
Listen, listen
[Chorus 2]
But if I seem to be confused
I didn't mean to be with you
And when you said I scared you, well, I guess you scared me too
But we got lucky once before
And I don't wanna close the door
And if you're somewhere out there passed out on the floor
Oh, Joey, I'm not angry anymore
[Guitar Solo]
[Chorus 2]
And if I seem to be confused
I didn't mean to be with you
And when you said I scared you, well, I guess you scared me too
But if it's love you're looking for
Then I can give a little more
And if you're somewhere drunk and passed out on the floor
Oh, Joey, I'm not angry anymore
Angry anymore
Angry anymore
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