Cemetery Polka (1985) – Tom Waits

Tom Waits 1985

The whacky circus music and Waits accustomed minstrel role is all here. You know good writing in a song when you have great characterization in few short words, but it’s elusive enough to impel the reader to interpret it based on their lives and worldview. The call-down of the lyrics suggests a disheveled family which we all almost have. But given bad luck almost anybody could wind up where we see this played out. So Cemetery Polka on the surface seems to be a crack at the everyday family and persons failings, but its about much more.

Uncle Vernon, Uncle Vernon, independent as a hog on ice
He’s a big shot down there at the slaughterhouse
Plays accordion for Mr. Weiss

Uncle Biltmore and Uncle William
Made a million during World War Two
But they’re tightwads and they’re cheapskates
And they’ll never give a dime to you

Cemetery Polka is from Waits esteemed ’85 Raindog album which was ranked number 399 on Rolling Stones list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time“. Waits recalled about his time living in NY during the period he did the album: “There is something interesting about Manhattan. Someone could stand out in the middle of Fourteenth Street stark naked, playing a trumpet with a dead pigeon on their head and no one would flinch. In fact, tomorrow there will probably be two guys like that. They’d be lease-letting, trying to get more subscribers.

“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
11 comments on “Cemetery Polka (1985) – Tom Waits
  1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    I love this and Waits. It is different no doubt. I have just read some about him. He hung out with the Replacements in the later 80s and they recorded some together. Bizarre sense of humor at times and great.

  2. Max is a good man. This music of Toms appeals to me. Good pick.

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