An Old Acquaintance

It was the first Monday afternoon of the new year. I was driving through town, running an errand,  listening to Tom Waits.

The CD playing on the car stereo was one I’d purchased the previous Saturday while doing some end-of-2011 shopping at my favorite store on the planet, Bull Moose Music in downtown Portsmouth, NH.  Entitled Used Songs, it is a “best of” compilation, issued in 2001 by Rhino Records, containing 16 tracks from the seven albums that Waits recorded for Asylum Records from 1973 – 1980.

I hadn’t listened to any Tom Waits in quite a while. So, as the sound of that indescribable voice and those awe-inspiring lyrics dazzled my ears once again, the smile that unfolded across my face was filled with a  joy much like that which comes from being reunited with an old friend.

“Heartattack And Vine” rattled out of the speakers first, followed by the live-in-a-dark-and-smokey-nightclub recording of “Eggs And Sausage (In A Cadillac With Susan Michelson).”  “Eggs And Sausage” comes from one of my favorite Tom Waits’ albums, 1975’s Nighthawks At The Diner. 

The third cut on the CD was “A Sight For Sore Eyes.”

Taken from the excellent 1977 LP Foreign Affairs (the one I was looking for that New Year’s Eve-day afternoon), Waits quotes a familiar and – for me, at that time and on that day – perfectly appropriate melody in the piano-only introduction.

“Auld Lang Syne”

Give a listen.

I hope you enjoyed that.

It’s sure not Guy Lombardo.

If you’re not familiar with the music of Tom Waits, this CD, Used Songs, is a great place to start.

Besides the songs I’ve already mentioned, it is packed with 13 more spectacular numbers including   “Ol’ 55,” “I Never Talk To Strangers” (a fabulous duet with Bette Midler), “Jersey Girl” and “(Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night.”

Welcome back, Tom Waits: an old acquaintance that should not have been forgot.

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