Friday, December 7, 2007

A Day That Will Live In... Famy?

December 7, 1941. A bad day, I think we all can agree.

But isn't there a December 7 every year? Did nothing good ever happen on a December 7?

Of course good things happened on other December 7ths. In 1965, the lovely and talented Jeffrey Wright was born. Happy Birthday, adopted actor, and many happy returns.

And on December 7, 1949, Tom Waits was born in the back of a taxicab. Happy Birthday, Mr. Waits!

How good a songwriter is Tom Waits? Here's a partial list of folks who decided to record a Tom Waits song or two. The Eagles, Bette Midler, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Elvis Costello, Anne Sophie Von Otter, The Ramones, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Primus, William S. Burroughs, The Blind Boys of Alabama and Johnny Cash.

How good a songwriter is Tom Waits? Here's the lyrics to Buzz Fledderjohn, a song that can only be found on the Japanese import version of his album Mule Variations. Essentially, the song is a throwaway, only fit for his most dedicated fans. It's also a brilliantly creepy portrait of two neighbors who don't get along for reasons not completely clear. Any other writer who wrote this would have been happy to put it front and center.

I stood on the roof, stood till dark
To get a better look at the Fledderjohns' lawn
Big sharp pistols, ammo too
Nothing but books about World War II
Rottweiler, Dobermann, a Pinkerton guard
I ain't allowed in Buzz Fledderjohn's yard

I ain't allowed
No, I ain't allowed
I said, I ain't allowed in Buzz Fledderjohn's yard

I seen a python swallowing a Dobermann whole
Piranhas swimming in a mixing bowl

Paper's full of stabbings, the sky's full of crows
She's singing in Italian while she's hanging out her clothes
Carp in the bathtub and it's raining real hard
I ain't allowed in Buzz Fledderjohn's yard


Well, the sailor's ringing doorbells, the sinner's in the pew
Weathervane's squeaking to the west
I seen the cliffs of Dover and the deepest ocean blue
One thing in the world I can't recommend to you

Chorus and fade

And in honor of Tom Waits, this week's Random 10 is taken from the Tom Waits song collection on my computer.

Cemetery Polka Tom Waits
Soldier’s Things Tom Waits
Poor Edward Tom Waits
Gin Soaked Boy Tom Waits
Filipino Box Spring Hog Tom Waits
Train Song Tom Waits
Gun Street Girl Tom Waits
In The Neighborhood Tom Waits
Cold Cold Ground Tom Waits
Downtown Train Tom Waits
Bonus Track: Buzz Fledderjohn Tom Waits

Now playing: Tom Waits - Buzz Fledderjohn
via FoxyTunes


dguzman said...

The Kid (age 11) loves her some Tom Waits. And Pink.

Matty Boy said...

Gots to raise these young'uns up right.

FranIAm said...

I loves me some Tom Waits too. I was about 30 when I discovered him! The Kid is ahead of the curve.

Great random 10, great lyrics -thanks for sharing.

And of course, a fine, fine post.

Padre Mickey said...

As uncle Matty Boy probably remembers, the Dresbabies' first concert was Tom Waits at the Paramount in Beautiful Down Town Oakland, city of my birth.

Matty Boy said...

Yes, we were all Raindogs that night.

Our Tom hadn't performed in a while, and a fan screamed out, "Jesus Christ, Waits! Where ya been?!?"

Tom, not missing a beat, replied, "Where YOU been, buddy? You still workin' over by the airport?"

I, too, am a native of the Oaken Town.