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"The Bartender"

from "3 A​.​M​.​" EP by Casey Ruff

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This song was informed by the late nights of closing up bars, whichever side of the bar I was on. It's kinda like the introspective answer to my other song "Born in a Bar" and an attempt to convey the station of labor that the trade has gifted me. Furthermore, This song is dedicated to my bar people and honorable mentions throughout the cohort include:

Liz Coleman- who introduced me to the poetry of Warren Zevon and I thus started writing this song during the peak of my initial Zevon adorations. She runs a helluva bar when there's an establishment smart enough to keep her.

Jim Walker of The Junction City Saloon (version 4) and Dan Cowan of Tractor Tavern- my most prominent Bar Uncles and greater teachers of the business and it's subtleties. I owe them both a lot for what I know of the trade and myself therein.

JT Antonopolous- notable because nobody makes the job look as tough and as easy and as entertaining as JT continues to do.

Tif Schwarz- who always shared the wry humor and perspective that a sane bartender requires. An attribute that Adria Dukich has as well.

Ed Konek- who was always a champion of my writings and music. He ran the Bit Saloon in Ballard and it was a very generous place to call a living room for a lot of us and our tunes. He kept a keg of Coors Original on tap for me even though I was the only person drinking it, and stocked a bottle of DeKuyper's "Hot Damn" in the event that anyone needed a shot of "Black Dragon" that I was always buying for the adventurous or the self-hating (note: a Black Dragon is 3/5's Jager, 2/5's Hot Damn, shaken over ice and strained). The world was a better place with Ed in it and he is certainly missed.

Tim Murphy- who was for me the ultimate Bar Saint of Humanity. He was the manager of Tractor Tavern, and he set aside my application because I was from Montana and he figured I had a rural work ethic. Over the phone, all he asked me was "can you lift a keg?" and he made sure to confirm the truth when I interviewed in person.

Tim had a way of being that was at all times sincere, and often that meant a precisely placed comment on what needed improved- followed by an existential surrender to how things are going to proceed anyway. He was friendly, caring, superior in his cynicism, wise-not-by-choice, and also will be ever dearly missed.


Drunks pay my bills
Alcoholics pay the rent
I don't work here just for the money
I work here to earn back
Some of that self respect
That I'll spend when I ain't working

I live on the table scraps
Of joy and of romance
From the hands of my masters
And I still take the rest
The sorrow the sadness
I chew the fat that doesn't matter

Save a drink for The Bartender
The greatest friend you've ever had
'Cause they may need that drink worse than you
Soon as this night's through

I ride my cigarette buzz
Hold tight to my topped off coffee cup
This is a sport with performance enhancements
I watch the room fill up
Spin around and fall down
As I walk through people dancing

And I love the closing up
When the lights are low down
And I'm alone with the glow and the echo
They say it's a young man's business
That bitch is such a cruel mistress
She loves everyone but she's coming home with me.

Save a drink for The Bartender
The loneliest person in the room
'Cause they may need that drink worse than you
Soon as this night's through

And don't say to me your glass is half empty
'Cause from over here- it looks half full
And don't get in the habit of leaving things unfinished
Take it from somebody that would know

Save a drink for The Bartender
Your greatest friend and enemy
'Cause they may need that drink worse than you


from "3 A​.​M​.​" EP, released May 1, 2020


all rights reserved



Casey Ruff Seattle, Washington

A singer/songwriter living in Seattle, WA. He's originally from Custer, MT. Known by migrant beet laborers as "El Dragón de las Altas Llanuras". Former high school mascot. Future nihilist. Acting Vice President of the M. Bellucci Fan Club. Sounds like AmeriContra, Gravelvet, and Frontier Orchestral ... more

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