10

Early in The Blues Brothers, Jake turns to Elwood and asks:

Jake: What's this?

Elwood: What?

Jake: This car. This stupid car! Where's the Cadillac? (beat) The Caddy! Where's the Caddy?

Elwood: The what?

Jake: The Cadillac we used to have. The Bluesmobile!

Elwood: I traded it.

Jake (with disbelief): You traded the Bluesmobile for this?

Elwood: No, for a microphone.

Jake: A microphone? (beat) Okay I can see that.

Is there some circumstance where a car, even a beater, could be worth trading for a microphone? Or is the scene simply absurd, just a joke?

  • Its a joke. Remember in Dumb and Dumber when Lloyd trades in their van for a moped and "totally redeems [himself]"? Same thing. – sanpaco Feb 4 '16 at 0:03
13

It's a joke to emphasise just how poor the Caddy, which we don't see on screen, actually was. He didn't even sell the car. He just traded it.

However, an explanation as to why he did it can be found in the next line in the script:

Jake: A microphone? (beat) Okay I can see that.
Elwood: This was a bargain. I picked it up at the Mount Prospect City Police auction last spring. It's an old Mount Prospect Police car. They were practically giving them away.

So he got a pretty good car in the end. And hopefully a decent microphone!

  • But Jake is incredulous that Elwood could have traded the Caddy for the Dodge, so whatever its condition, it was at least prima facia superior to the new Bluesmobile. – user6213 Feb 3 '16 at 23:23
  • @JonofAllTrades: He was incredulous until the end of the scene we both quoted above - when Elwood jumps the bridge in the new car. Then he's more than happy! – Andrew Martin Feb 3 '16 at 23:24
  • But it needs a new cigarette lighter ;) – theMayer Feb 2 '18 at 5:25
7

The joke is that music is more important to the Blues Brothers than anything else, even the Caddy. Something as paltry as a microphone is worth more than a car, because they value music as more important. Consider everything else they do to get the band back together, all the laws they break, and you will see that their priorities are screwy.

1

It's a joke, but it's actually quite reasonable. Some studio microphones sell for astronomical prices.

Here's an old Cadillac on ebay for less than $10, 000 (and I didn't search too hard - I'm sure you could do better). Swap that old clunker for one of these (Neumann microphone worth $13, 000) and you've scored yourself a real bargain.

1

While emphasizing that the car was a hunk of junk, and considering that studio microphones are expensive, getting "a microphone" would seem to fit their slang for getting a gig or a show. They also appreciate music more than anything else. This does conjure up the idea of an interesting story in Elwood's past where he might have not had any control in the "trade". I don't think there's any explicit meaning in what he's telling Jake.

1

I think this is a bit of well-written setup dialog for the scene that comes immediately after the dialog in question:

Jake: Well, thank you, pal. The day I get out of prison, my own brother picks me up in a police car.
[Fog horn and warning bell sounds.]
Elwood: You don't like it?
Jake: No, I don't like it.

We all know what happens next. It's early in the movie, and you need to get Jake established a bit as a character. You're also seeing that Elwood is kind of an idiot - Jake is the smart one of the two. This dialog serves very well to lay that out, while also being hilarious.

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