Played with Tom Waits today. I'd follow his voice anywhere. A voice like that never says anything that doesn't matter. He's Brave Johnny, come back legless from the war. A blossoming alcoholic with a limbless itch where his legs used to be. And now he's going to tell you where all the mines are.
Break me, Tom Waits. Bind me with ropes of notes to the rack of your words. I want to feel like a child at the funeral of a Beloved family pet. I want you to tell me how you learned every awful Truth you know. Map the Mines of Heartbreak. Tell me all about it...
* * * * *
* * * * *
The Part You Throw Away
Sometimes life is like accidently throwing your weed into the garbage on trash day. It's not that you're too proud to dig through the trash, it's that you've robbed yourself of the opportunity to retrieve what you didn't mean to throw away in the first place. The truck has come and gone. It rumbled in at six a.m. and woke you. But you only rolled over.
So your weed winks out of existence. In much the same way people do. Sometimes the shiny wears off people. Sometimes, they only shine with their true light in the rearview mirror. This is one of the ways the Universe lets you know when you've fucked up. It's your cue to learn something.
The worst thing about that feeling is that it gets to be a familiar one.
"Will you loose the flowers
hold onto the vase.
Will you wipe all those teardrops
away from your face
I can't help thinking
as I close the door
I have done all of this
many times before."
You throw away something you didn't mean to out of carelessness. You do it so often that it becomes an elegant Dance of Disappointment. A sort of Grace that comes with repetition, overwhelms you. You needn't think about the movements anymore, you simply dance The Funeral Waltz when the right music begins. You know all the steps to The Last Dance, and are never without a partner.
"The bone must go
The wish can stay.
The kiss don't know
What the lips will say.
Forget I've hurt you.
Put stones in your bed
and remember to never
* * * * *
Everything Goes To Hell
"Why be sweet, why be careful, why be kind?
A man has only one thing on his mind
Why ask politely, why go lightly, why say please?
They only want to get you on your knees"
It's easier to kick a praying man, because he's on his knees already. Being prone to Hope and Faith In Your Fellow Man can have similar results to being a white fox born with a red bullseye birthmark. On the whole, it's not survivable, unless you're exceptionally clever and strong. The Exception to the Rule survives. But in most people, possessing a perennial hopeful outlook regarding Human Nature, should actually qualify them for disability. Given the evidence of the everyday.
"There are a few things I never could believe
A woman when she weeps
A merchant when he swears
A thief who says he'll pay
A lawyer when he cares
A snake when he is sleeping
A drunkard when he prays
I don't believe you go to heaven when you're good
Everything goes to hell, anyway"
Faith In Your Fellow Man, can be no different from wearing a cosmic 'KICK ME!' sign on your back. You can always trust Tom Waits to drag, The Sad Fact Of The Matter, out into the open.
If you don't go to Heaven when you're good, then why be good? No good deed goes unpunished. Is any Faith In Your Fellow Man that actually survives, even worth having?
* * * * *
God's Away On Business
"Goddamn there's always such a big temptation
To be good, To be good
free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby"
The temptation to be good, is it something in everyone that The World snuffs out over time? Has the good in Human Nature been executed by those we put in charge when God went away on business?
"Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
Killers, theives, and lawyers
God's Away, God's Away
God's Away on Business"
And. If there is good inherent in everyone then the nature of human atrocity is an irrefutable tragedy, many times magnified. Because we have a capacity for goodness that no one is ever rewarded for using. Therefore:
"I'd sell your heart to the junkman baby
For a buck"
* * * * *
A Dirt Nap Lullaby. Or so it seems on the surface. Plodding guitar, keening loops of strings. Sung over the swooning notes of a lullaby:
"Sun is red; moon is cracked.
Daddy's never coming back.
Nothing's ever yours to keep.
Close your eyes, go to sleep.
These lines are taken from the beginning of the song, and for the sentiment to be so rending, so immediately is a wonderful thing. The music and the lyrics are at a perfect odds.
In the second verse a Veiled Hopefulness is implied,
"Nothing's ever as it seems.
Climb the ladder to your dreams."
If 'nothing's ever as it seems' then, that may even include the ugliness that seems inherent to The World. At heart, it may be a lullaby to the Unquenchable Hope that is the source of all human Misery. But - Tom Waits, singing in a voice that learned everything the hard way, still gives you permition to dream.
* * * * *
A Good Man Is Hard To Find
Let me begin by describing the Quality of music visual:
Tom Waits sings alone on a cabaret stage, red curtains spilling down behind him. He wears a black tophat, shiny shoes, white gloves, and carries a walking stick. The walking stick is magic. Whenever he taps the rim of a glass with it, the glass fills with the best whiskey.
"How far from the gutter; how far from the pew.
I'll always remember to forget about you.
How far are we from God and all His good intentions?
"A long dead soldier looks out from the frame
no one remembers his war; no one
remembers his name
Go out to the meadow; scare off all the crows
It does nothing but rain here, and nothing will grow"
No one remembers what he fought for either. Because no one actually remembers what it was like when human beings actually valued things worth fighting for. Today, most people value money, and the right to access all the ways to make more of it. So - We send the poor to fight the Rich Man's War. Humanity has had a gradual evolution in what we consider worth dying for. And it appears to have come down to enlarging the wallet of those three individuals, over there.
And you can scare off all the crows, but that doesn't change the fact that the seeds don't grow. The problem is not that the crows eat the crop. The problem is that the very soil of human nature is poisoned by greed. We've elected our own destruction. Given them our money and the blood of our children. It's all Blood Money now. No amount of rain washes it clean. Humanity isn't worth fighting for. Good is much harder to come by than Evil.
"A good man is hard to find.
Only strangers sleep in my bed.
My favorite words are good-bye.
And my favorite color is red."
A truly Lasting Peace requires no survivors. But here we all are, anyway. So - The point has never been Peace.