Today’s Tom Waits 55th birthday. Think it should be a national holiday.
Like every true believer I remember the day, the place and whom I was with when I first heard him.
It was June, 1979 and I was in Park Slope with the-bum-who-came-for-dinner-and-stayed-forever visiting one of his few (in New York) friends.
Park Slope, especially around Fifth Avenue, where the bum’s friend lived, wasn’t yet yuppie heaven but it was nicer than people said.
My office, or the people and records in it, to be precise, had moved from Broadway in lower Manhattan where we overlooked Saint Pauls Church to Flatbush Avenue Extension near Juniors, so I had low standards.
When the bum’s friend played “The Heart of Saturday Night,” I felt like I had entered a new world that reflected me, or wanted me as I was, or was pure poetry in motion or something. I didn’t really think about it but immediately ran out and bought all his tapes–later changed to Cd’s.
I corrupt a lot of his lines because they’re so waiting to be corrupted or used. I’m kind of incoherent on the subject of Tom Waits.
“Waltzing Matilda” was always one of my friends, Helaina’s, favorite drinking songs. When I played the Tom Waits version she became very mad and almost walked out of my apartment.
People have been known to apologize to me for not liking Tom Waits. Something about his voice….I don’t get it, but nobody needs to apologize for not liking my taste in music.
I finally saw him in concert, at the Beacon, four or five years ago. It was a three hour show more worthy than any one-man Broadway show. He was brilliant and it was the concert I’ll remember in heaven or hell or whatever.
When I write, my computer’s been drinking, not me–as I’m apt to do, it’s my homage to genius. It’s not the only line I’ve corrupted, but the one that expresses my feelings the best.
I could talk about Tom Waits, the man and his music forever, but I’d rather just listen.
Happy birthday Tom Waits, and thank you for helping me find my own voice.