Thursday, June 28, 2007

Closing Time

I of course left almost all of my music in Alabama. I didn't have my computer yet or an mp3 player and traveling with a full cd collection isn't practical. It is amazing how many cd's you can accumulate without realizing it over the years. But I'm slowly rebuilding some music to listen to, which is as important as ever since about half of my job consists of staying awake and alert. Also being at sea and going weeks at a time with almost no conversation leaves your mind in need of something appropriating conversation even if it is only listening to the singing voices. I kind get obsessed with songs or albums or artists and can listen to the same things over and over again, so it isn't so bad having such a limited collection right now.

I'm listening to Tom Waits' "Closing Time" right now. He can be boring and a little annoying sometimes, but when he hits it right, damn he nails it. "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You" has long been one of my favorite songs. I don't understand why everyone in the world hasn't covered that song. "Ol' 55" is great, but why is it the only one of these songs you ever hear anyone else sing? "I Hope..." and "Old Shoes (and Picture Postcards)" are just begging to be covered. What I wouldn't give to hear Willie Nelson sing either. Or maybe Shelby Lynn. Or one of these songs or "Lonely" on the next (please let there be a next) Trio album. When I listen to "Grapefruit Moon" I imagine I've heard Kiki and Herb do the song, but I don't think I have (actually, maybe they did do the song once at Joe's Pub. Anybody remember?). In my head (memory or fabrication), it sounds brilliant by them.

My favorite game to play with my friends is 'If we were, who would we be?' and I guess I do the same thing with songs sort of, always thinking about how they would sound sung by other people. Liz used to have a book Would You Rather...? which was just full of nonsensical scenarios to choose between. One question which I remember from it was, "Would you rather be in charge of who lives or dies, or who gets to star in what movies?" Almost all my friends excitedly chose the picking who is in what movie option. Idiot-neighbor Matt I think wanted to decide who lived and died for some lame reason like "Then I could let myself live forever..." But anyway, I want to be the guy who picks who gets to sing which songs.

The song which really grabbed me listening to this album this go round was "Martha". I'd never really paid it too much attention, but damn if it wasn't amazing to listen to at one in the morning, half out of my mind from counting hooks and floats and fish with the boat pounding through the waves and spray splashing against my raingear. In this monotonous but intensely visceral work environment, to listen in on this beautiful, intimate, desperately confessional conversation was tremendous. So beautifully constructed, a story sparsely told with this throbbing piano in the background. You can hear the trembling loss in his voice, which ceases to be Tom's voice but is taken over completely by the narrator of the song. The loss but no regret, even if after all these years he's never let go of that time and still has to reach out and try to make that connection with it again. I love something in that approach to life, the protagonist who is heroic not in completing some quest, but in having been there completely in something where time didn't matter, neither the amount of time that the connection lasted not the amount of time since it had ceased to be directly present. That is the only kind of love story which I like. The actual affair can last for a moment or for a lifetime, but afterwards it is so crystal clear and intense that it becomes almost subconscious. Everything else is outside of it and circumstantial.

Anyway, enough of love song analysis. At first I thought that I actually wouldn't want to hear "Martha" covered at all, but I think maybe that Lucinda Williams might have just the right pleading tremble in her voice to pull it off.

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