Gut Rumbles

June 05, 2004

the dutchman

I was sitting around a swimming pool in Costa Rica and some English-language music was playing on the hotel stereo. I wasn't paying a lot of attention to it, because I reading a good book called The Naked Detective by a writer named Laurence Shames. I traded a book I brought with me and finished the day before for that one. It's set in Key West and I know a lot of the places referenced in the story.

All at once, my ears homed in on these words from the stereo: "Sometimes I see my unborn children in her eyes."

I sat up and put down my book, thinking THAT THIEVING BASTARD! HE STOLE THAT LINE! It's right out of "The Dutchman."

That song is about a senile old coot whose daughter takes care of him, despite the fact that he's pretty far gone in the head. The words bring tears to my eyes and the melody is beautiful. With two guitars (finger-picking, or course) and some harmony, that song will make a crowd of drunks shut up and listen.

The Dutchman's not the kind of man
To keep his thumb jammed in the dam
That holds his dreams in
But that's a secret that only Margaret knows.

Amsterdam in summertime is golden
Margaret brings him breakfast
She believes him
He thinks the tulips bloom beneath the snow
He's mad as he can be, but Margaret only sees that sometimes
Sometimes she sees her unborn children in his eyes.

There's the evidence and I rest my case. Mike Smith wrote that song, Steve Goodman recorded it, and it's been around for AT LEAST 25 years. Did the bastard who clipped that line think some old fart ex-musician such as I am wouldn't RECOGNIZE his plagarism?

I don't remember the name of the song I heard or who sang it. But he damned sure stole that line.


Always loved the song, and the guitar piece in the middle of it is awesome.

I always got the impression that Margaret was his wife. "She sees her unborn children in his eyes" specifically made me think they were a couple who never had children for one reason or another. Still, great song. Used that to make my wife fall in love with me.

Posted by: og on June 5, 2004 02:55 PM

You might be talking about the Bryan Adams song from the movie Don Juan Demarco. There is a line in that song that goes, "when you can see your unborn children in her eyes..." The title of the song is something like "Really Love a Woman".

Posted by: Renee on June 5, 2004 04:49 PM

I, too, always thought Margaret was his wife.
Also, "The Dutchman" is the only song that is gaur-an-teed to get me weepy, "Old Shep" included. Hell, I'm getting misty right now just *thinking* about it!
Also nice to know I'm not the only Steve Goodman fan in the world.

Posted by: John W. on June 5, 2004 08:27 PM

I LOVE Laurence Shames books. He's hilarious. If you enjoy that kind of screwball comedy (and don't mind a bit of an environmentalist message added), also try Carl Hiassen.

Too funny!

Posted by: Omnibus Driver on June 7, 2004 05:50 PM

I thought the same thing when I first heard the Adams song.
Liam Clancy also has recorded "The Dutchman." Michael Smith and Steve Goodman were both Chicago musicians.

I think the full title of the copycat song is "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?" by Bryan Adams.

(The full lyrics are on the net at


Posted by: Marty on June 11, 2004 01:21 PM

1005 cool eh?

Posted by: free credit reports on August 31, 2004 08:52 AM

hi. i'm michael smith's brother peter. the guy who wrote don juan de marco, whose name i am drawing a blank on, also wrote creator and has used michael's line in both. such is life.

Posted by: peter on October 6, 2004 01:54 PM
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