The Brooklyn Gentrification Blues, in Literal Song-Form

But do you need a passport to cross here? (NO.)
But do you need a passport to cross here? (NO.)

Gentrification conjures up real feelings of grief for Brooklyn native Jeff Alexander. So much so that he’s been writing literal blues music about the hordes of latte-swilling yuppies that have descended upon Kings County and given it a vaunted cultural cachet.

From the far reaches of rusty Bushwick to the salty air of Red Hook Harbor, the yuppies are winning, and the common man can’t get no relief—at least that’s the sentiment behind “Blues for Brooklyn.” Performed by Alexander’s band, Larry Thurston and the School for Fools, the song is a lament about the current state of the borough, replete as is it with real estate developers, marketing executives, and a constantly swelling professional class that’s transformed Brooklyn from its working-class beginnings.

Alexander calls himself a “Brooklyn homing pigeon” in an email, because he’s left the borough six or seven times (he can’t really recall), only to find himself journeying back to his homeland on every occasion. This song is all about Alexander’s difficult love-affair with Brooklyn, after he’s watched it morph at the whims of people who came here from Virginia, California, Utah, Ohio, and basically any place that is not actually New York City.

Here are the lyrics in full:

You can’t go home again, talkin’ bout where I come from

Who said you can’t go home again, been talkin’ bout where I come from

I sure would like to stay here, looks like the good old days are done

Some folks I’ve known about forty years, others about fifteen or twenty

There’s folks I know on forty years, others only fifteen or twenty

When I see the price of living here, might as well not have a penny

I got the blues for Brooklyn, one place I thought I’d always fit in

When I see the price of living here, might as well not have a penny

I got the blues for Brooklyn, one place I thought I’d always fit in

Y’know I’d like to call it home, but I can’t find my way back in

Workin’ man can’t live here, less he bought in a long time ago

You know a working’ stiff can’t live here less he bought in a long time ago

Me, I been out lookin,’ now I’d like to light back home

The yuppies drove the prices up, and all those other wannabes

The yuppies just keep coming, and the people from over every sea

Big Demand in New York City, populace multiply like fleas

But I hear that Brooklyn accent, and I know I’m back at home

Catch that New York sense of humor, makes me feel I’m not alone

Y’know I’d like to stay here, just be wishing on a star

Work two jobs to pay my rent, more to insure my car

If you watch the lyric video below, you’ll notice that the band calls Brooklyn Magazine out for not respecting the borough’s classic soul and doo-wop groups. To which we’d like to say: Thanks for the shout-out. We’ve certainly never written about anything having to do with that kind of music or just old school Brooklyn in general. Not once.

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Watch the video below:

Follow Sam Blum on Twitter @Blumnessmonster