Tom Waits – Storyteller


Another definite literary lyricist is Tom Waits, his storytelling in the beatnik, Burroughs and Bukowski trajectory. It is both raw and beautiful, and I’ve been reading and discovering this morning, like the great narrative Red Shoes by the Drugstore, and as it is only November but the TV already swelled with Christmas ads, here’s a little festive fare from this story,

now the rain washes memories from the sidewalks
and the hounds splash down the nickel
full of soldiers
and santa claus is drunk in the ski room
and it’s christmas eve in a sad cafe
when the moon gets this way
there’s a little blue jay
by the newsstand
wearing red shoes

But the one I know best and have always liked is Frank’s Wild Years, always enjoying the wild imaginings of its violence and humour,

Frank’s Wild Years (For Frankie Z.)

Well Frank settled down in the Valley
and hung his wild years
on a nail that he drove through
his wife’s forehead
he sold used office furniture
out there on San Fernando Road
and assumed a $30,000 loan
at 15 1/4 % and put down payment
on a little two bedroom place
his wife was a spent piece of used jet trash
made good bloody marys
kept her mouth shut most of the time
had a little Chihuahua named Carlos
that had some kind of skin disease
and was totally blind. They had a
thoroughly modern kitchen
self-cleaning oven (the whole bit)
Frank drove a little sedan
they were so happy

One night Frank was on his way home
from work, stopped at the liquor store,
picked up a couple Mickey’s Big Mouths
drank ’em in the car on his way
to the Shell station, he got a gallon of
gas in a can, drove home, doused
everything in the house, torched it,
parked across the street, laughing,
watching it burn, all Halloween
orange and chimney red then
Frank put on a top forty station
got on the Hollywood Freeway
headed north
Never could stand that dog

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