(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.
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 eyeMakes 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