Tom Waits Week – Day 7

March 30th 2014 – Day 89

For the final installment of my celebration of Tom’s incredible talent, I have chosen the song that makes me smile, shudder, feel sad and happy all at the same time. It’s the epitome of urban blues, jazz, beat poetry, paying homage to film noir, road movies, and  still managing to stay so cool it melts your socks.

The first time I got to see Tom live was in London, November 1987. He was touring Franks Wild Years, but threw in a lot of Rain Dogs as well. For the most part, the audience were pretty subdued and static, seated, politely clapping at all the right times. I was so excited I couldn’t contain the groove, and when he started playing the rhumba version ‘Straight to the Top’ a couple of songs into the show, I jumped up and start dancing, shouting “Play it Tom, play it!” – that was a good gig.

Tom, I fucking love you; thank you for making such wonderful music, and for entertaining me for so many years, and thank you for being such an influence on my own creative spirit.

Small Change

Well small change got rained on with his own .38
and nobody flinched down by the arcade
and the marquise weren’t weeping 
they went stark ravin’ mad
and the cabbies were the only ones 
that really had it made
cause his cold trousers were twisted 
and the sirens high and shrill
and crumpled in his fist was a five dollar bill
and the naked mannikins with their 
cheshire grins
and the raconteurs 
and roustabouts said buddy 
come on in 
cause the dreams ain’t broken down here 
now… they’re walkin’ with a limp
now that 

small change got rained on with his own .38
and nobody flinched down by the arcade
and the burglar alarm’s been disconnected 
and the newsmen start to rattle
and the cops are tellin’ jokes about some whore house in Seattle
and the fire hydrants plead the 5th Amendment
and the furniture’s bargains galore
but the blood is by the juke box 
on an old linoleum floor
and it’s a hot rain on 42nd Street 
and now the umbrellas ain’t got a chance
and the newsboy’s a lunatic 
with stains on his pants cause…

small change got rained on with his own .38
and no one’s gone over to close his eyes
and there’s a racing form in his pocket 
circled Blue Boots in the 3rd
and the cashier at the clothing store 
he didn’t say a word as the
siren tears the night in half 
and someone lost his wallet
well it’s surveillance of assailants 
if that’s whachawannacallit
but the whores still smear on
and they all look like
but their mouths cut just like 
razor blades and their eyes are like stilettos
and her radiator’s steaming 
and her teeth are in a wreck
now she won’t let you kiss her 
but what the hell did you expect
and the gypsies are tragic and if you 
wanna to buy perfume, well 
they’ll bark you down like 
carneys…sell you Christmas cards in June

small change got rained on with his own .38
and his headstone’s 
a gumball machine
no more chewing gum or 
baseball cards or 
overcoats or dreams and
someone is hosing down the sidewalk 
and he’s only in his teens

small change got rained on with his own .38
and a fist full of dollars can’t change that
and someone copped his watch fob 
and someone got his ring
and the newsboy got his pork pie Stetson hat
and the tuberculosis old men 
at the Nelson wheeze and cough
and someone will head South 
until this whole thing cools off cause
small change got rained on with his own .38
small change got rained on with his own .38

Tom Waits, 1976