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Tom Waits — The Heart of Saturday Night
Album: The Heart of Saturday Night
Avg rating:
8

Your rating:
Total ratings: 2821









Released: 1974
Length: 3:47
Plays (last 30 days): 2
Well you gassed her up
Behind the wheel
With your arm around your sweet one
In your oldsmobile
Barrelin' down the boulevard
You're looking for the heart of saturday night

And you got paid on friday
And your pockets are jinglin'
And you see the lights
You get all tinglin' cause you're cruisin' with a 6
And you're looking for the heart of saturday night

Then you comb your hair
Shave your face
Tryin' to wipe out ev'ry trace
All the other days
In the week you know that this'll be the saturday
You're reachin' your peak

Stoppin' on the red
You're goin' on the green
'cause tonight'll be like nothin'
You've ever seen
And you're barrelin' down the boulevard
Lookin' for the heart of saturday night

Tell me is the crack of the poolballs, neon buzzin?
Telephone's ringin'; it's your second cousin
Is it the barmaid that's smilin' from the corner of her eye?
Magic of the melancholy tear in your eye.

Makes it kind of quiver down in the core
'cause you're dreamin' of them saturdays that came before
And now you're stumblin'
You're stumblin' onto the heart of saturday night

Well you gassed her up
And you're behind the wheel
With your arm around your sweet one
In your oldsmobile
Barrellin' down the boulevard,
You're lookin' for the heart of saturday night

Is the crack of the poolballs, neon buzzin?
Telephone's ringin'; it's your second cousin
And the barmaid is smilin' from the corner of her eye
Magic of the melancholy tear in your eye.

Makes it kind of special down in the core
And you're dreamin' of them saturdays that came before
It's found you stumblin'
Stumblin' onto the heart of saturday night
And you're stumblin'
Stumblin onto the heart of saturday night
Comments (253)add comment
 Talus1 wrote:


I love that whole album of Waits covers (Temptation), but I really love her version of Empty Pockets (Purple Avenue) from Blame it on my Youth. I only got to see her once, back in the early 90s when her trio with Aaron Davis and Rob Piltch played a tiny club in Toronto. It was an awesome show.



Thank you for this lead. Not comparing Tom to Holly - two different singers for two different moods. Fantastic cover...
 Stratocaster wrote:

Reminiscent of the songs on Closing Time, before he completely blew out his voice. Gave it an 8…



When did Waits ever blow out his voice? It's just aged like good whiskey.
Reminiscent of the songs on Closing Time, before he completely blew out his voice. Gave it an 8…
Haha before I looked here I thought "he sounds somewhat like Tom Waits, but without the raspy voice"
 skylerwicket7651 wrote:

This is great, but every time I hear it, I want to hear Holly Cole's version more!



I love that whole album of Waits covers (Temptation), but I really love her version of Empty Pockets (Purple Avenue) from Blame it on my Youth. I only got to see her once, back in the early 90s when her trio with Aaron Davis and Rob Piltch played a tiny club in Toronto. It was an awesome show.
This is great, but every time I hear it, I want to hear Holly Cole's version more!
This song makes me sad for the Saturday nights from decades ago.  The lyrics and the album cover art draws out vignettes from some arbitrary, old-school night in the early 1970s and makes you feel something of the excitement and anticipation, but those moments are long gone and mostly forgotten, and the people of that landscape and the fun and adventures are no longer there.  Those kinds of Saturday nights died in in the 1980s and early 1990s, and they've become something absolutely unrecognizable with a completely different set of people.  That makes the song even more poignant for me.
2 TENs in a row from me! (Other was Cake - "Guitar")
This is simply one of greatest songs ever! Mesmerizing melody, great band and godlike lyrics. Pure 10!
Is there any song by Tom Waits that doesn't make you feel like a character in a novel set in NYC, stumbling around at midnight looking to sober up with a friend? 
 bruceandjenna wrote:

Three years later.

Three years older.

I'm witcha man.


Recalling the past can cause twinges of the heart muscle, eh? Almost Too Close to the core on this one by Tom Waits!
This song is like that favorite shirt or pair of jeans, but better because it doesn't fall apart after 20+ years of use.
This to me sounds a lot like Bruce Springsteen (good thing) and the type of song he would have written (style, subject, etc.)
Don't forget to check out his featured turn in the Coen brother's Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
 Olympus_mons wrote:

I must have admit it took awhile for me to like Tom Waits, but the more I heard him the more i began to like his stuff alot.



it's an acquired taste. Same happened to me.
Page from the book of life.  Superb truth.
Brings a tear to the eye of Ransom E. Olds. 
"it's your second cousin" is the line that makes this for me
Jerry Jeff Walker has a great version live on A Man Must Carry On.
Tom really knows how to write a song.  Sublime.
 ThePoose wrote:
where is the smoke-infused, whisky-sodden voice I am so used to?
 waiting for those cigs and whisky to be consumed

 fraserji wrote:
Uncanny. Out for a motorcycle ride today with this song was going through my head and now it's on RP. How did Bill
know that? 
 
He always seems to know, man. Bill just has that knack...
This should be a 10 or above
 spacemoose wrote:
Damn the nostalgia this evokes.  I feel old.
 
Three years later.

Three years older.

I'm witcha man.
where is the smoke-infused, whisky-sodden voice I am so used to?
I could’ve swore this was Springsteen until I looked in surprise to find it Waits! Undoubtedly, a younger-voiced Tom at that. Thanks RP for the surprising discovery. :) And, does “cruising with a 6” refer to what I think that it does? (the old school, well established ritual of drinking and driving!)
This tape stayed in the cassette deck of my old VW for that entire summer of '75 as I spent my glorious 22nd year seeking waves up and down the East Coast.

Thanks, Tom, for the perfect soundtrack of a "wasted" year. 
Interesting to see the distribution of ratings. Shame on the out-liars!
love tom waits. more tom waits please.
 rpdevotee wrote:
Back when Tom Waits had a voice...
I think that cigarette in his mouth might be telling
 
I think he intentionally adopted the style and people responded well to it so it became his thing.

I like him a lot, but personally, I would rather he backed off the gravelly shtick.
 hayduke2 wrote:

dude that's Madeline Kahn ; )

 

She looks tired!
Uncanny. Out for a motorcycle ride today with this song was going through my head and now it's on RP. How did Bill
know that? 
Back when Tom Waits had a voice...
I think that cigarette in his mouth might be telling
 zedstation wrote:
1974?...isn't that Madonna on the cover?

 
dude that's Madeline Kahn ; )
 maxvonevil wrote:
Wow, Waits post Betty Ford?
Sure, the regular smokehouse/whiskeybarrel/traffic accident voice has it's own, ahem...properties, however you can actually listen to this without having to simultaneously run your nails over a blackboard to offset the audio trauma.
Proclivities wrote:

"Waits post Betty Ford"?  This is from his second album, from 1974, when he was likely drinking and smoking pretty heavily, and before his voice took on its more commonly-known characteristics.  Before he slept in the stable and woke up a little hoarse.

 
Pre or Post Ford clinic, you both made me laugh with this one.  And (without looking) I'm guessing this is his highest rated song at 8+

Peace, Love, RocknRoll, Drugs and Sex and Happiness in whatever order!


 maxvonevil wrote:
Wow, Waits post Betty Ford?
Sure, the regular smokehouse/whiskeybarrel/traffic accident voice has it's own, ahem...properties, however you can actually listen to this without having to simultaneously run your nails over a blackboard to offset the audio trauma.

 
"Waits post Betty Ford"?  This is from his second album, from 1974, when he was likely drinking and smoking pretty heavily, and before his voice took on its more commonly-known characteristics.  Before he slept in the stable and woke up a little hoarse.
Wow, Waits post Betty Ford?
Sure, the regular smokehouse/whiskeybarrel/traffic accident voice has it's own, ahem...properties, however you can actually listen to this without having to simultaneously run your nails over a blackboard to offset the audio trauma.
After tons of listens on RP from this one, I'm bumping it up to the 10 it deserves since the emotion of it got to me this last time. 
1974?...isn't that Madonna on the cover?
 2020sk wrote:
Despite the crass rhyme of neon buzzin with second cousin this is about as close to a painting as a song can get, ain't it?

 
nice way of putting it. yep. 
WOW! an almost listenable TW song!
God

 
Damn the nostalgia this evokes.  I feel old.
The Bard of Sonoma County!
Despite the crass rhyme of neon buzzin with second cousin this is about as close to a painting as a song can get, ain't it?
An obvious 10 for me

 
 ick wrote:

Old soul.

 
1. Old soul, scary bukowsquiesque soul. But beautiful mouse pad—thanks for the photo.
2. What is he building in  there? 
3. Big Time brought new meaning to the psychedelic concert film. 
 Cynaera wrote:
I first heard this as a remake by Shawn Colvin, and I loved it - until I heard the original.  Now, Colvin's version seems lame and unemotional...  Another reason why I'm a purist - most times, the originals are the best, most honest, most true...
 
miss you so much, Cynaera...

everybody in my alien space craft loves this song...  can't speak for Madam Blue...

Good riddance, Mister Green. 
Sublime - still think 'Swordfish Trombones' is perhaps his best
Just hearing this brings me back to a time that I wasn't even in.
The heart of Saturday night? Gotta work my way through the spleen of Thursday morning first. 
For god sakes more of Tom Waits on RP! Please...
Bill plays at least one cover of this song. Hearing the original reminds me of how tremendous this song can be. 

And man, he sounds so *young* here.......  
 melzabutch wrote:







       

 
Old soul.
Was most fortunate to see him live in a small club in SF years ago.
"diamonds on the windshield" of life....

GREAT SOUND..
 michaelc wrote:
I have the sudden need for a drink.

 
yessiree, and a smoke and some raspy good stories (jeesh, I'ma lifelong non-smoker)
a filipino box spring hog ?

TuneAgeWhereWoof wrote:
Good ol' Tom doesn't have to pander to anyone...  cuz he's independently wealthy.  I'm just glad he is one of the rare, bad asses who uses it for good.  I'd party with him on any given summer night, roast a pig and let it flow
 
My fantasy dinner party invite list definitely has Tom on it. I'll sit him next to Angelo Badalamenti 

oldsaxon wrote:

My fantasy dinner party invite list definitely has Tom on it. I'll sit him next to Angelo Badalamenti

 


I have the sudden need for a drink.
Beautiful and timeless. Hard to believe he was only 25 when this was released.







       
no mater how bad you think his voice is,not only does he wright Dylan quality songs, he sounds better than squeal young any day of any week...................leonard choen is another great one..........{#Yes}
 kingart wrote:
In that sad, upbeat, melancholy, hopeful way particular to so much music of the '70s. 

 
Excellent observation. Interesting to hear a young Tom actually trying to sing instead of bellowing like a half-deaf wino. 
A poet with a voice that sounds like 5 miles of rutted dirt road.  He's magnificent.  Wouldn't surprise me if the cover art is a photo of him as a young man, blitzed outside an anonymous lounge on a Saturday night ... looking.
 darcand wrote:

Fell for that too.

djblitz wrote:
I was looking for Springsteen all along, lol whoops!
 
 
Tom Waits minus heart minus soul plus unwarranted success = Springsteen
 Fell for that too.

djblitz wrote:
I was looking for Springsteen all along, lol whoops!
 


 MrRedwood wrote:
The man is a god.
 
God of Shite... for sure
The best.
The man is a god.
 TuneAgeWhereWoof wrote:
Good ol' Tom doesn't have to pander to anyone...  cuz he's independently wealthy.  I'm just glad he is one of the rare, bad asses who uses it for good.  I'd party with him on any given summer night, roast a pig and let it flow
 
My fantasy dinner party invite list definitely has Tom on it. I'll sit him next to Angelo Badalamenti
I suppose when I'm 87 years old...if I live that long...I'll hum this tune to myself, while drinking booze from a paper bag in an alley. How optimistic!!
I was looking for Springsteen all along, lol whoops!
My favorite Tom Waits song... and that is saying a lot!
Good ol' Tom doesn't have to pander to anyone...  cuz he's independently wealthy.  I'm just glad he is one of the rare, bad asses who uses it for good.  I'd party with him on any given summer night, roast a pig and let it flow
In that sad, upbeat, melancholy, hopeful way particular to so much music of the '70s. 

Down by the law of your sound, Tommy!

All grandfathers in my therapy-room like this song!


 Dahnyul wrote:
Well spoken.  I agree, Tom is Tom. He is not affecting any style, he is not trying to be anything.  He is who he is, and he is fully authentic.  Like him, or don't, but I do agree it would be a mistake for anyone to think Mr. Waits is affecting a syle.
 
Thirded. Tom is a true original and he doesn't pander to anyone.
 Proclivities wrote:

Did you ever hear him speak?  He's got a pretty gravely voice, perhaps from smoking for many years.  If you don't like Tom Waits' vocal stylizations, that's your opinion, but "stylizations" are, by definition, something "put on for effect".  Plenty of folks do not like the way he sings, but that's his style or character, and it conveys a great deal of feeling and emotion - particularly in songs such as "Ruby's Arms" or "Muriel".  He's been professionally writing, recording, and singing music for almost forty years, and apparently that's the way he wants to sing.

 

Well spoken.  I agree, Tom is Tom. He is not affecting any style, he is not trying to be anything.  He is who he is, and he is fully authentic.  Like him, or don't, but I do agree it would be a mistake for anyone to think Mr. Waits is affecting a syle.

Danno
Great lyrics, great song, great voice. 9.
 yodasan_magoo wrote:


Same here, I heard Bill announce Tom Waits and as I frantically looked for the mute button the song started.  This is good...what the heck happened to his voice on his later recordings? 

 
Yes, I'm one of the many who respect Tom Waits, but haven't yet acquired a taste for his voice  {#Smile}, but this is nice.  His lyrics are trenchant, as always.

 lerxst wrote:
Geez, a Tom Waits song I like? Shocking. I love his voice on this song, but on others it is nails-on-a-chalkboard.
 

Same here, I heard Bill announce Tom Waits and as I frantically looked for the mute button the song started.  This is good...what the heck happened to his voice on his later recordings? 

 lerxst wrote:
Geez, a Tom Waits song I like? Shocking. I love his voice on this song, but on others it is nails-on-a-chalkboard.
 
you read my mind !

Geez, a Tom Waits song I like? Shocking. I love his voice on this song, but on others it is nails-on-a-chalkboard.
Well put! Proclivities wrote:

Did you ever hear him speak?  He's got a pretty gravely voice, perhaps from smoking for many years.  If you don't like Tom Waits' vocal stylizations, that's your opinion, but stylizations" are, by definition, something "put on for effect".  Plenty of folks do not like the way he sings, but that's his style or character, and it conveys a great deal of feeling and emotion - particularly in songs such as "Ruby's Arms" or "Muriel".  He's been professionally writing, recording, and singing music for almost forty years, and apparently that's the way he wants to sing.
 

Poetry.
Well whatever he is doing, it works with me!{#Clap}
 allearsny wrote:

Here's my take on Waits's voice(s): It's not his "gravel" that has always bothered me, but the fact that I think it was/is inauthentic. THIS song is (I think) his "real" voice, before he started manufacturing the "gravel," for reasons that are beyond me. I've always thought he was trying to sound like an old Black man. Maybe Armstrong? Armstrong, Maybelle, others — their voices worked because they were THEIR voices. But I agree, he's one of our best songwriters, and didn't/doesn't have a bad voice; we just didn't get to hear the real him after a point. I don't know what he's up to these days.
 
NPR just did a segment on Waits and speaks directly about his distinctive and always changing sound.  I think it might explain his sound as both his style and as a story-telling technique. 

https://www.npr.org/2011/03/04/134236977/tom-waits-a-raspy-voice-heads-to-the-hall-of-fame

But yes, sometimes it is too much more me too : )

 allearsny wrote:

I guess I should add that I'm a singer, so I think I can tell when a vocal stylization is "put on" for effect. Waits shouldn't have.
 
Did you ever hear him speak?  He's got a pretty gravely voice, perhaps from smoking for many years.  If you don't like Tom Waits' vocal stylizations, that's your opinion, but "stylizations" are, by definition, something "put on for effect".  Plenty of folks do not like the way he sings, but that's his style or character, and it conveys a great deal of feeling and emotion - particularly in songs such as "Ruby's Arms" or "Muriel".  He's been professionally writing, recording, and singing music for almost forty years, and apparently that's the way he wants to sing.

 allearsny wrote:

Here's my take on Waits's voice(s): It's not his "gravel" that has always bothered me, but the fact that I think it was/is inauthentic. THIS song is (I think) his "real" voice, before he started manufacturing the "gravel," for reasons that are beyond me. I've always thought he was trying to sound like an old Black man. Maybe Armstrong? Armstrong, Maybelle, others — their voices worked because they were THEIR voices. But I agree, he's one of our best songwriters, and didn't/doesn't have a bad voice; we just didn't get to hear the real him after a point. I don't know what he's up to these days.
 
I guess I should add that I'm a singer, so I think I can tell when a vocal stylization is "put on" for effect. Waits shouldn't have.

 james_of_tucson wrote:

I never understood why that wasn't a problem for Louis Armstrong or Big Maybelle, but most people to whom I've exposed Tom Waits for the first time were so put off by his voice, they just couldn't get past it at all.  These days I just say "despite being one of the worst singers of all time, he's one of the most influential songwriters."

 
Here's my take on Waits's voice(s): It's not his "gravel" that has always bothered me, but the fact that I think it was/is inauthentic. THIS song is (I think) his "real" voice, before he started manufacturing the "gravel," for reasons that are beyond me. I've always thought he was trying to sound like an old Black man. Maybe Armstrong? Armstrong, Maybelle, others — their voices worked because they were THEIR voices. But I agree, he's one of our best songwriters, and didn't/doesn't have a bad voice; we just didn't get to hear the real him after a point. I don't know what he's up to these days.


I really enjoy hearing the difference in his voice. Very cool. {#Daisy}
 spacemoose wrote:
This song always makes me a little weepy for lost youth, chasing a good time, and whatever wisdom can be found in booze and vaginas.
 
ha! yes, its a bit melancholy. Love it.

 calypsus_1 wrote:

coffee and cigarettes by ~nothought
morganne  ©2007-2010 ~nothought

tom waits in the movie
coffee&cigarettes.

use|pencil(HB, B, 2B, 4B, 8B)
time|3-4hrs

The beauty of quitting is, now that I've quit, I can have one, 'cause I've quit. ~tom waits

.

 
beautiful

Such perfect timing. It is two-thirty in the morning on this 1st of Jan 2011. It is a calm and hot Saturday morning in Cape Town. I can hear the New Year's Eve revelers still partying up a storm downtown and we just managed to put our teething 4 month-old to sleep.
A perfect moment.
Thank you so much.
 Danimal174 wrote:
Wow! I wouldn't have guessedt this was Tom Waits. I've only heard his later stuff, where his voice is, um, just a tad "gravel-ly" (if that's a word).

 
I never understood why that wasn't a problem for Louis Armstrong or Big Maybelle, but most people to whom I've exposed Tom Waits for the first time were so put off by his voice, they just couldn't get past it at all.  These days I just say "despite being one of the worst singers of all time, he's one of the most influential songwriters."

An outstanding song from TW.  A rare treat indeed
While I respect your opinion, I kindly beg to disagree. I have heard some phenomenal remakes that stand on their own next to the originals. For example I have always been a big fan of "Waiting in vain" by Bob Marley, but the remake by Ituana is soul stiring as well. 
 
Cynaera wrote:
I first heard this as a remake by Shawn Colvin, and I loved it - until I heard the original.  Now, Colvin's version seems lame and unemotional...  Another reason why I'm a purist - most times, the originals are the best, most honest, most true...
 


I first heard this as a remake by Shawn Colvin, and I loved it - until I heard the original.  Now, Colvin's version seems lame and unemotional...  Another reason why I'm a purist - most times, the originals are the best, most honest, most true...
 Stefen wrote:
It's amazing how smooth his voice is.  36 years ago.

 
Like Bob Dylan..

Bruce?

coffee and cigarettes by ~nothought
morganne  ©2007-2010 ~nothought

tom waits in the movie
coffee&cigarettes.

use|pencil(HB, B, 2B, 4B, 8B)
time|3-4hrs

The beauty of quitting is, now that I've quit, I can have one, 'cause I've quit. ~tom waits

.

Oh yes, this is one of his purdy ones!{#Yes}
It's amazing how smooth his voice is.  36 years ago.

I know there's generally a battle between the boho storytelling early Tom Waits and the generally more artsy later Tom, but, jeeze, this song is totally excellent - as is the whole album.
Wow! I wouldn't have guessedt this was Tom Waits. I've only heard his later stuff, where his voice is, um, just a tad "gravel-ly" (if that's a word).

reminds me of Ry Cooder's "Third Base, Dodger Stadium"

Is that Pavorotti?  No, just the young Tom . . .
Nice!!
9 to 10.
 spacemoose wrote:
This song always makes me a little weepy for lost youth, chasing a good time, and whatever wisdom can be found in booze and vaginas.
 
Booze and vaginas. Take my word for it, the education never ends.

This song always makes me a little weepy for lost youth, chasing a good time, and whatever wisdom can be found in booze and vaginas.
M-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m, yeah...
Kind of reminds me of Bob Dylan...except he can actually play the guitar and his singing does not make me want to jump out the winder.
Tom Waits is larger than life. He's a fictional character come to life.
This is a great piece - and yes, from Waits' early, more melodic time. Jerry Jeff does a great cover of this song, too.
stopped mid-sentence typing an email, listening to this awesome track. {#Good-vibes}

 Pyro wrote:

I'm exactly the opposite.  I like the "pretty" voiced Tom....

 

Fine. Be like that.{#Smile}
I wonder if he can still sing with this relatively velvety voice. I'd forgotten that he used this voice prior to the Swardfish Trombone days. Sounds better, in retrospect.
 SweTex wrote:
I prefer the later Tom Waits, with a voice like a rusty nail in a glass of bourbon, but this is ok too.So this gets a 9 instead of a 10.
 
I'm exactly the opposite.  I like the "pretty" voiced Tom....

Always have loved this  song and album. Loved  it, when life was good, and loved it when life was sad.

 
SweTex wrote:
I prefer the later Tom Waits, with a voice like a rusty nail in a glass of bourbon, but this is ok too.So this gets a 9 instead of a 10.
 


I prefer the later Tom Waits, with a voice like a rusty nail in a glass of bourbon, but this is ok too.So this gets a 9 instead of a 10.