(Looking for) The Heart of Saturday Night – Tom Waits

Tom waits 1974

Tom waits 1974

(Looking for) the Heart of Saturday Night comes from Tom’s second studio album called The Heart of Saturday Night.  It was released 10 months after I was born in October 1974 which makes Tom pretty frickin’ old. Not really, he’s just 69 years young. I last saw him appear in the Coen Brother’s latest movie The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Not only is he arguably the most original singer songwriter in contemporary music history he’s also a pretty fine actor as seen by his memorable performance in his ‘gold mining’ vignette in this Coen’s western about ‘death’.

I would consider myself a relative newcomer to Tom’s music although my music library is peppered with Tom’s songs. This music project will provide an ideal opportunity to dig a little deeper and engage with people who may be more attuned with his background and discography. I wrote a short post about Tom many moons ago about his appearance on Dave Letterman’s show where he described New York City: ‘It’s like a big ship and the water’s on fire’. Anyone who isn’t familiar with Tom Waits should check that performance out to see the type of artist we are dealing with here. It’s an other-wordly performance and the interview is a ‘real hoot’. It’s almost impossible to put a definitive label on Tom because he is just so inventive and original. Probably the best I could find is the Rolling Stone’s: ‘urban romantic poet’. I’ve also got a penchant for ‘minstrel of the downtrodden’.

(Looking for) the Heart of Saturday Night is a more subdued melancholic piece about the familiar places Tom liked to visit in his early works- the bar, the cocktail lounges, the smokey places he play at. As Janet Maslin from the Village voice put it “It demands to be listened to after hours, when that cloud of self-pitying gloom has descended and the vino is close at hand”. But she was hardly enamored with it calling it ‘boozy vertigo’!
Apart from with the Beats like Keroac and Ginsberg I often associate Tom in this era with Charles Bukowski particularly his screenplay ‘Barfly’, ‘Notes of a Dirty Old Man’ and ‘Post Office’. Waits, of course was a huge admirer of Bukowski having narrated his poems and using a text on one of his albums.

The album the Heart of Saturday Night was ranked 339 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, his highest placing.

Tell me is the crack of the pool balls, neon buzzin’?
Telephone’s ringin’, it’s your second cousin
Is it the barmaid that’s smilin’ from the corner of her eye?
Magic of the melancholy tear in your eye
Makes it kind of quiver down in the core
‘Cause you’re dreamin’ of them Saturdays that came before
And now you’re stumblin’
You’re stumblin’ onto the heart of Saturday night

Related Articles:
1. The Heart of Saturday Night – Wikipedia
2. The Heart of Saturday Night – Rolling Stone
3. Tom Waits recites Bukowski’s ‘The Laughing Heart’

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Music
33 comments on “(Looking for) The Heart of Saturday Night – Tom Waits
  1. Brilliant – I knew him but I didn’t really.. (And 69 is a brilliant age to be! and 7 December 1949 is a brilliant day to be born!!!!!)

    • You couldn’t have the exact same age and date of birth as Tom, Bruce? You knew him but didn’t really? In person?

      • No – no – knew of him only! Yes – yes – we share the exact same birth date – although I was born at 6.10 am NZ time and therefore probably came out before he did!

      • That’s a remarkable coincidence Bruce! I’m almost lost for words. Had you known prior to the post that you shared the same date?

      • No – I didn’t know. In fact, I googled him because you said he was 69 and I wondered if he was born in 1949 or 1950. And that’s when I saw the birthdate!

      • That’s extraordinary. I’m glad his album coincided with the year I was born otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation and you wouldn’t know you shared the same birth date with Mr Tom Waits. Not to put a damper on this, I imagine his birthdate was actually December 8th in NZ, because of the time zones. I met someone with my exact same birthdate here in Colombia but we realised she was actually born 1 day later than me despite sharing the same DOB haha

      • Yes – he would possibly be born on my 8th – and managed to capture a lot of the moondust that was clearly intended to land on me. So I missed out – otherwise I would have been putting out albums to celebrate your birth!

      • Yes as the world was spinning the moondust fell prematurely on a baby born in a taxi somewhere in the US. Any way may be you will be more fortunate than him in the longevity department. Who knows what kind of moondust comes our way, huh?

  2. Once a Waits fan, always a Waits fan!

  3. badfinger20 says:

    I like what I’ve heard from Tom. I’m not super familiar with his catalog but he is so different that I enjoy his songwriting and one of a kind voice.

    • I too am not overly familiar with Tom, but I’ve been listening to him a lot recently. The strange thing is my little kids love his music. I also find I like to dance to many of his tracks and that almost never happens with other artists.

      • badfinger20 says:

        He is just so intriging that I have to listen when he performs. His voice draws me in.

      • I just love the variation in his music. You can listen to something relatively sedate like ‘Heart of Saturday night’ and then another song as outlandish and comedic like ‘Big in Japan’. His got some great Blues and Jazz numbers too. I’m looking forward to digging into his music deeper.
        By the way Bad, I wrote to you on another page of yours if you didn’t mind if I reblogged your Lacy J Daltan post since her song is coming up in my library and you wrote a great piece. I couldn’t do the song justice, like you did.

      • badfinger20 says:

        He does have a great variety. Variety is a key for me with artist…the great ones usually have it. Dylan, Young, Bowie, Morrison and The Beatles for that matter.

        You never have to ask me to reblog anything of mine…I would be honored.

      • They are some great artists you mentioned with respect to variety. David Bowie is another songwriter who I wish I had listened to more.
        Thanks for allowing me to reblog your post.
        Oh I was going to ask if you had heard Bruce Springsteen’s latest album Western Stars? I hadn’t and I wanted to know if it was any good.

      • badfinger20 says:

        With Bowie…there are periods I like him better than others but saying that… I do like his career. What a change he would make at any time…from the glam Ziggy Stardust to the soul music of Young Americans.

        No, I haven’t listened to it yet. I should have but havent…because I’m a huge Bruce fan…

      • I’m familiar with David’s big hits, but I haven’t listened to an album of his in its entirety. If I ever get time I’ll do it.
        I just wrote a post on a Bruce song today scheduled for Thursday. I’m also very fond of him more so when I was a youngen.

      • badfinger20 says:

        Yes the last Bruce album that I listened to all the way through was Ghost of Tom Goad…I’ve heard cuts off of his albums since but not the complete album…

        I’ll be looking forward to it.

      • The last one I heard and bought was Magic. I’ve heard snippets of his latest on You tube, but I’ll probably get a hold of it soon.

      • badfinger20 says:

        I have more catching up than you do.

      • ‘Girls in their Summer Clothes’ from Magic brought me back to his 70s stuff. Wonderful song.

      • badfinger20 says:

        Ok…I’ll make that one the next one then.

      • I’m not suggesting you listen to the whole album, but that song is in my top 20 Springsteen. The last Springsteen album which really impressed me was ‘The Rising’.

      • badfinger20 says:

        I’ve heard a few things off the last ones but I want to catch up. I will check the song out thank you.

      • You’re welcome buddy. Cheers.

  4. hanspostcard says:

    Tom Wait’s voice has changed a lot over the years- from his 70’s albums until now. Great songwriter! Well Done!

    • Yes his voice, but music as well. The variety in his music output is staggering. I’m looking forward to getting into his stuff. I have only recently been listening to a lot of his material. Thanks Hans.

      • hanspostcard says:

        A friend of mine who is really into music- his favorite artist- Tom Waits. .Waits is one of those artists I’ve been meaning to listen to- from his start back in the 70’s until present day–

      • I’ve got about 50 of his allegedly greatest songs and I’m currently checking them to confirm if each will remain in my library. If I get pulled right into his music I’ll go through his whole discography.

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