Sunday, September 21, 2003

It only seems appropriate that I begin this new blog by discussing a song by Tom Waits, since my blog's title is nicked from his song "Take It With Me" from Mule Variations.

Tom Waits - "Kentucky Avenue"
Imagine a camera shot that begins overhead of a neighbourhood, and then drifts down onto the street, giving enough of a wide angle for you to see the characters that inhabit both sides of the street. As the piano soundtracks the scene, Waits introduces us to Eddie Grace's shot up buick and Hilda playing strip poker, among others. The listener soon realizes they are in fact listening in on two kids sitting around talking about the goings on in their neighbourhood, while also trying to figure out what kind of trouble they can get into. Waits' friendship is so strong that he offers to buy his buddy a skull and crossbones ring, or to tattoo his own arm with his buddy’s initials. It’s the childhood friendship that most boys either had or dreamed of having. Only then does this story take the twist of telling us that Waits’ friend is confined to a wheelchair. With strings building in the background, Waits considers taking the spokes from the chair, and hacksawing the braces from his friend’s legs. It’s this desire to make his friend feel normal and to join him on an adventure that is so innocent and so touching. The song, which is featured on 1978's Blue Valentine, has such beautiful music that even an instrumental version would stand out as a highlight in Waits’ catalogue. But with the commentary from Waits, it becomes one of the most beautiful and tragic songs I’ve ever heard. It's not surprising that this piece has reduced me to tears. Unless you are opposed to Waits voice (which understandably turns many people off), it would be surprising if this song didn't generate a similar reaction.
posted by Jonathan


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