Adventures of a University Finalist

Monday, September 05, 2005

The Number Ten Song in Heaven (Part 1 of 10... obviously)


Tom Waits - Alice (Anti, 2002)

Tom Waits - I'm Still Here

So why the grandiose gesture of a ten part series? Well, I was getting a bit sick of doing four song blocks and that I didn't have the time or inclination to devote my time into each tune equally. Thus, I am now trying out a new period of economy SVC style to allow my creative juices to flow and my record collection to not be used up by the end of the month. Hence, the theme of my personal Top Ten songs that will be playing in Heaven when I get flattened by a diaper truck or mauled by a grizzly bear. I know that its egotistical to think that you guys care a jot about my choices since I'll be having to fight tooth, nail, mace and plank of a wood with a nail in it, for jukebox rights. The fact that God invariably gets dibs will complicate matters even further and I hear that he's a Celine Dion, Bryan Adams, and John the Baptist fan so we may be all shit be out of luck unless we get Nat King Cole to step up to the big white grand piano and play some requests.
So if the worst comes to the worst, and drunk on wine straight from the disciple's private vines we finally force Nat to crack his knuckles and let ebony and ivory glide beneath his fingertips then I'll request this Tom Waits ditty. Taken off the concept album, Alice, hidden between the drowned phlegmmy rasp of 'Reeperbahn' and the delicate sea shanty cum aquatic ballad of 'Fish and Bird' it clocks in at merely 1 minute and 49 seconds; every second of which is filled with a contained, opalescent beauty. I've chosen this forgotten gem in particular over the many other highlights of Waits' distinguished career (I consider songs such as 'Kentucky Avenue', 'Picture in a Frame', 'Frank's Wild Years', and 'Old Boyfriends' among other as superior to this tune in the all-time rankings) for personal reasons.
I will always remember that day when I came home from walking my English Bull Terrier, McGinlay, only to find not only that no one was home but I had forgotten my house key. Luckily, the side gate was open and we moseyed through it into the back garden to sit on the sun lounger and wait for my parents return. This was before the Golden Era of the Ipod so I had two irritating little earphones wedged between the hardened earwax connected to my beloved Minidisc player (he's taken a few knocks over the years and now sits forlornly in a bedside drawer waiting for the new pretender to his throne to kick the proverbial bucket). On this particular day, 'Alice' was rotating happily on the player and I had particularly enjoyed manfully skipping down the back lanes whilst 'Table Top Joe' careened off the roof tiles into the bluest of skies. I hadn't ever really gotten through the album before due to various interruptions and its difficult schizophrenic pacing. However, God obviously had a plan for me that day so that I would finally put up, shut up and listen to the entire album in all its Gestalt glory.
So we have the picture of me with sunglasses on, eyes closed, legs spread out and music playing. I'd finally twisted, turned and shimmied through 'Reeperbahn's' many pitfalls of ominous clinks and bangs accompanied by Waits' impersonation of the Mad Hatter on a cocktail of methadone and copious quantities of gin. So far, so wonderfully chaotic. One had not reckoned with that sound of the piano wafting in as light as a feather clearing the haze of my own foggy stupour before the middle eight hit knocked me off the lounger like bulldozer covered in particularly soft cushions. For the woodwinds had joined the march of the gin blossoms at the same time as Waits attempting what could easily be mistaken for a high note with his utterance of "Someone turn the lights back on/I'll love you 'til all time is gone." Now, at this point in my life I hadn't had anybody to hold in such a fashion. I had suffered my adolescent rejections and they still stung but only as much as any emotional splinter. As a result, I had no right upon this earth to feel any tears roll down my cheek as I frantically scrabbled at my glasses so that I could run my sleeve across my scarlet tinted cheeks. But that's exactly what happened. Why? I have no idea. Waits is an alchemist - turning what others see as lead into gold through the deftest and most knowing of touches. He'd be a superstar if he didn't look like a tramp or actually gave a flying rodent about such material things. Then again, if he did then he wouldn't be the man that we know and love today.
Tomorrow... I haven't decided. I'll plan it all out and then I can leave tantalising clues from whcih you can try and derive the next entry... or completely ignore as I would. FYI: The Graduate, despite his genuine hatred of most crosswords, only buys NME to find out the new clue that Trevor Hungerford has found for Cud. The man seems to have a never ending list!

Buy - Tom Waits - Alice
Visit - Tom Waits