Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tom Waits - Small Change

Tom Waits – Small Change
Asylum, 1976
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2008
Price: $8

Not the best Tom Waits album, or my favorite, but it's growing on me. I picked this one up because it's got two of my favorite songs of his: “Tom Traubert's Blues,” which was used with perfection in Julian Schnabel's Basquiat, which is where I first heard and fell in love with that song. It's also got “The Piano Has Been Drinking,” which was the first Tom Waits song I ever heard some ten years ago. I thought it was great, especially the line “cream puff casper milk toast.” The writing on this record amazes me. Not only are these songs you want to put on after a long, shitty night at the bar with a broken heart. Look at the boozy piano blues of “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart,” featuring such gems like “Yes I drunk me a river since you tore me apart/ And I don't have a drinking problem/ Cept when I can't get drunk.” This precedes his dual masterpieces Swordfish Trombones and Rain Dogs by nearly 10 years, but it's a solid gold gem. That voice! That's the voice I want for my inner monologue. The voice I want narrating my groovy, debauched nights in the big city. The voice I have when I'm on an elevated train in some metropolis. Shit, maybe this is my favorite Tom Waits record. There isn't a weak song here and it's got this beautiful, husky flow that's impossible to resist. That and it has some of the best lyrics I've ever seen, ever. “And you can't find your waitress/ with a geiger counter/ and she hates you and your friends/ and you just can't get served/ without her,” he drawls. There's a perfect dry wryness to it all, a sort of ironic playful jab in the gut that makes you laugh for a second before realizing shit's pretty depressing.

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