Well, Eddie Grace’s Buick got four bullet holes in the side
And Charlie DeLisle is sittin’ at the top of an avocado tree
Mrs. Storm will stab you with a steak knife if you step on her lawn
I got a half a pack of Lucky Strikes, man, so come along with me
And let’s fill our pockets with macadamia nuts
And go over to Bobby Goodmanson’s and jump off the roof
Still more lushly sentimental was “Kentucky Avenue,” the great song of Waits’ childhood. One of his most unashamedly emotional outpourings, it mourned lost innocence with a compassion few other songwriters have ever attempted, let alone achieved. This wasn’t The Waltons—the lyric was full of wanton violence and vandalism—but as the song reached its climax, the love in Waits’ voice, heaved from his memory, was almost too much to bear.
-Barney Hoskyns (Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits)
Hey Charley I’m pregnant
Living on 9th Street
Right above a dirty bookstore
Off Euclid Avenue
I stopped taking dope
And I quit drinking whiskey
And my old man plays the trombone
And works out at the track
One of Tom Waits’ most beloved songs from one of his more obscure albums, Blue Valentine, “Christmas Card…” is a live standard. The song showcases Waits playing a barroom piano melody, weaving words together — in essence, doing what he does best in one long, bittersweet song. The lyrics are essentially a reading aloud of what the title says it is — a Christmas card from a hooker in Minneapolis. Waits takes the voice of the female character: “Hey Charley, I’m pregnant…”; you can guess the rest. The song is littered with characters with names like Mario. There are references to the track, a filling station, and a used car lot. There is whiskey, dope, grease, a trombone, and Little Anthony & the Imperials. What more could you want from a Tom Waits song?
– Denise Sullivan (allmusic.com)
There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood
Where lived a country boy named Johnny B. Goode,
Who never ever learned to read or write so well
But he could play a guitar just like a ringin’ a bell.
You can’t copyright guitar licks and maybe that’s good, because if you could, Chuck might have hoarded them as he does his Cadillacs. Without The Chuck Berry Riff, we’d lose not just the Beach Boys, but essential elements of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, and Bruce Springsteen — to mention only the most obvious examples. In a way, what was at the center of the first wave of the British Invasion could be described as a Chuck Berry revival.
~Dave Marsh (The Heart of Rock and Soul)
“Folsom Prison Blues” is a song written and first recorded in 1955 by Johnny Cash. The song combines elements from two popular folk styles, the train song and the prison song, both of which Cash would continue to use for the rest of his career. It was one of Cash’s signature songs.
And we’ll walk down the avenue again
And we’ll sing all the songs from way back when
And we’ll walk down the avenue again and the healing has begun
And we’ll walk down the avenue in style
And we’ll walk down the avenue and we’ll smile
And we’ll say “baby, ain’t it all worthwhile?” when the healing has begun
“It starts just like ‘Cyprus Avenue’, no coincidence as the line about ‘songs from way back when’ hints, and with a walk down the avenue (of dreams), to the sound of a haunted violin. A song of full, blazing sex as well as revelation. The healing here is like that in Arthurian myth, the wounded King restored through the action of the Holy Grail, but it is also through as graphic a seduction, almost, as the original live version of “Gloria”
-Brian Hinton (Celtic Crossroads)
This beauty was recorded at the Record Plant Studios in Sausalito, California in spring 1979. He has performed it live 274 times according to the brilliant website ivan.vanomatic.de.
Here are 5 lovely versions..
Live At The Oasis Centre – Putting The Boot In – Swindon – 1999:
I want you to put on your pretty summer dress
You can wear your Easter bonnet and all the rest
And I want to make love to you yes, yes, yes, when the healing has begun
Louder, when the healing has begun
All right, whoo