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Tom Waits — Swordfishtrombones
Album: Swordfishtrombones
Avg rating:
7.1

Your rating:
Total ratings: 1248









Released: 1983
Length: 3:00
Plays (last 30 days): 1
Well he came home from the war
with a party in his head
and modified Brougham DeVille
and a pair of legs that opened up
like butterfly wings
and a mad dog that wouldn't
sit still
he went and took up with a Salvation Army
Band girl
who played dirty water
on a swordfishtrombone
he went to sleep at the bottom of
Tenkiller lake
and he said "gee, but it's
great to be home."

Well he came home from the war
with a party in his head
and an idea for a fireworks display
and he knew that he'd be ready with
a stainless steel machete
and a half a pint of Ballentine's
each day
and he holed up in room above a hardware store
cryin' nothing there but Hollywood tears
and he put a spell on some
poor little Crutchfield girl
and stayed like that for 27 years

Well he packed up all his
expectations he lit out for California
with a flyswatter banjo on his knee
with a lucky tiger in his angel hair
and benzedrine for getting there
they found him in a eucalyptus tree
lieutenant got him a canary bird
and shaked her head with every word
and Chesterfielded moonbeams in a song
and he got 20 years for lovin' her
from some Oklahoma governor
said everything this Doughboy
does is wrong

Now some say he's doing
the obituary mambo
and some say he's hanging on the wall
perhaps this yarn's the only thing
that holds this man together
some say he was never here at all

Some say they saw him down in
Birmingham, sleeping in a
boxcar going by
and if you think that you can tell a bigger tale
I swear to God you'd have to tell a lie...
Comments (102)add comment
My god. How do you write lyrics like that? Wow.
5-26-2019 but posted 5 years ago.... 

Always enjoy this voice . . . . and wondering when it will crack.
 dimar wrote:
No you're not the only "old schooler"—lots of us love Waits.  If you're referring to actual CDs (as opposed to digital downloads)  then, maybe.  I have never been happy with all the plastic involved in the making of a CD, which has such a ridiculously short life expectancy.  LPs last so much longer!  No matter how well you take care of CDs, if you even breathe on them a little too hard, they skitter.  I'm a digital girl all the way, now. 

 
Likin' yer style... 
 
Posted: Jan 03, 2017 5:06
 < Reply >

 SeriousLee wrote:
Just got that CD in the mail this week. Am i the only old-schooler here?

 
I spun this on vinyl last week.  Fantastic album, particularly side 2.

This on my minor rotation list.


 SeriousLee wrote:
Just got that CD in the mail this week. Am i the only old-schooler here?

 
I spun this on vinyl last week.  Fantastic album, particularly side 2.
tell a bigger tale

tell me how I feel

Using words I never say
I can only think it must be love
Oh anyway, it's looking like a beautiful day
{#Cool}
I always imagine a hobbit singing this, is waits a hobbit?
No you're not the only "old schooler"—lots of us love Waits.  If you're referring to actual CDs (as opposed to digital downloads)  then, maybe.  I have never been happy with all the plastic involved in the making of a CD, which has such a ridiculously short life expectancy.  LPs last so much longer!  No matter how well you take care of CDs, if you even breathe on them a little too hard, they skitter.  I'm a digital girl all the way, now. 
Just got that CD in the mail this week. Am i the only old-schooler here?
 coloradojohn wrote:
This one gets me, every time — and haunts me for days afterward.  Simply magnificent.  Now I wanna hear Frank's Wild Years...
 
Yep, the whole album is excellent.
Brilliant. Pure Genius. This man creates music as music should be - thoughtful, soul-stirring, unpretentious and MEANINGFUL. God's blessings to you Mr Waits.
Well, Tom, it ain't your problem, but I'm not in the mood. I wanna go take a ride in my Ol 55 and get some tunefulness. PSD. 
Everybody Knows it
Everybody in my alien space craft loves this song...
 coloradojohn wrote:
This one gets me, every time — and haunts me for days afterward.  Simply magnificent.  Now I wanna hear Frank's Wild Years...

 
Frank's Wild Years was my "gateway drug" to Tom Waits.  I now have at least 20 hours of his music and feel like I need more.
Waits is wicked cool, got me doin' the obituary mambo daddy-o
 rdo wrote:
Tom Waits after Beck.  WHY ARE YOU TORTURING US BILL?? 
 

I'm sure there's a Top 40 hits internet radio station you could find.
 ch83575 wrote:
This might be my favorite Tom Waits album.  It's an album that demands to be listened to in its entirety.

 
I agree. A true work of art. I never get tired of it, and never stop hearing new details in the music and lyrics.
 coloradojohn wrote:
This one gets me, every time -- and haunts me for days afterward.  Simply magnificent.  Now I wanna hear Frank's Wild Years...

 
never could stand that dog...
Tom Waits after Beck.  WHY ARE YOU TORTURING US BILL?? 
This might be my favorite Tom Waits album.  It's an album that demands to be listened to in its entirety.
The beginning is the worst part. It leads to the rest of it.
 With you on this Coloradojohn. Simply brilliant.
coloradojohn wrote:
This one gets me, every time -- and haunts me for days afterward.  Simply magnificent.  Now I wanna hear Frank's Wild Years...

 


This one gets me, every time -- and haunts me for days afterward.  Simply magnificent.  Now I wanna hear Frank's Wild Years...
A brilliant artist, in my opinion. Just brilliant....
 dwlangham wrote:
I can get enough of this guy.

 
Can, and have.
 dwlangham wrote:
I can get enough of this guy.

 
't
I can get enough of this guy.
 Cynaera wrote:

These are incredible lyrics, but I'm damned if I know what they mean...  He's like T. S. Eliot - a line means something totally other than what it appears to mean at first read. Tom Waits is not a superficial listen. Once you embrace one of his songs, you're in it for the long haul.

SIgh.  Sign me up. I'm in it for the long haul. This song is the first in (I figure) a long line of enigmas that I need to solve.

 

Well said...

miss you...
 
 AndyJ wrote:
Tom Waits is hard to take in a tall glass or more than one... But every once in a wile... And that's what makes RP wonderful... The connections are made by humans...not machines doing the "Those who liked what you liked also liked..." social herding...

 Humans run in a pack...not a herd... and alone, we start again, on our own...which is why RP has encouraged me to buy so many albums... Thanks... There is always someone trying to guide, manipulate us into a group, race, nation, townie, whatever...They eventually fail... the rewards are shallow and seldom transition a generation...and never three
 

I always like to quote George Carlin on groups.  To paraphrase, when people get together in groups, it's for one reason: to fuck other people over.
Tom Waits is hard to take in a tall glass or more than one... But every once in a wile... And that's what makes RP wonderful... The connections are made by humans...not machines doing the "Those who liked what you liked also liked..." social herding...

 Humans run in a pack...not a herd... and alone, we start again, on our own...which is why RP has encouraged me to buy so many albums... Thanks... There is always someone trying to guide, manipulate us into a group, race, nation, townie, whatever...They eventually fail... the rewards are shallow and seldom transition a generation...and never three


Granted, this is only for hardcore Tom Waits fans:

https://youtu.be/2se2kV1W0c8

Yes, it's TW on a fishing show. Well, a fishing show of sorts, with John Laurie. Totally hilarious, in a Jim Jarmusch/John Laurie/Tom Waits sort of way. 

Farging genius. 
 Cynaera wrote:
. . . so heartbreakingly good it makes me want to collapse in a puddle of happy . . .
 
{#Roflol}

Frankly, I think his gravelly, almost-tuneless voice is the perfect way to deliver these lyrics.
New CD out this week. 
 fredriley wrote:

I'm one, so call me Phil E Stine if you want. Yer man's a great street poet, as witness the lyrics quoted a couple of posts ago, and is perhaps one of the greatest living poets in the Anglo-Saxon world, but his voice and delivery is, to put it mildly, 'challenging'. Tuneful it's not, which is maybe no bad thing given the content of his songs, and sometimes him sounding like he's lying on the pavement swilling from a cheap bourbon bottle in a paper bag outside a seedy slum strip club having smoked a packet of Gauloises extra strength is evocative and the perfect way to deliver his work. But he's hardly singalongaTom. So I'm a big fan of his poetry but would much rather hear good cover versions than Ol' Gravel Voice singing them.

 
I hate to be the one to point this out to you, Fred, but your description of Waits' sound is a lot like the way Waits writes...  I wonder - can you sing, too? (Teasing you....)

However, this has forced me to re-evaluate how I evaluate a song. Sometimes it's the lyrics (even if the vocal is pretty horrible), sometimes it's the music (even if the lyrics are juvenile), and sometimes, it's both (thought-provoking lyrics, music that is so heartbreakingly good it makes me want to collapse in a puddle of happy.) I'm more and more convinced that for me, FULL appreciation for a song has to be a lot more expansive than just lyrics OR music OR rhythm... It has to be a combination of everything, because otherwise, it would just be words, or music, or a beat.  It'd be a steak with no side-dishes. It'd be a car with primer but no paint. It'd be a garden with no flowers. It'd be.... Oh, just shoot me. {#Doh}
Carver set to music!
 fredriley wrote:

... and sometimes him sounding like he's lying on the pavement swilling from a cheap bourbon bottle in a paper bag outside a seedy slum strip club having smoked a packet of Gauloises extra strength is evocative and the perfect way to deliver his work...
 
You say that as if it's a bad thing.  I know what you mean though, his voice can be "challenging" for a lot of folks, not me, though.

 blackjackshellac wrote:
Who are the philistines who rated this less than 9?
 
I'm one, so call me Phil E Stine if you want. Yer man's a great street poet, as witness the lyrics quoted a couple of posts ago, and is perhaps one of the greatest living poets in the Anglo-Saxon world, but his voice and delivery is, to put it mildly, 'challenging'. Tuneful it's not, which is maybe no bad thing given the content of his songs, and sometimes him sounding like he's lying on the pavement swilling from a cheap bourbon bottle in a paper bag outside a seedy slum strip club having smoked a packet of Gauloises extra strength is evocative and the perfect way to deliver his work. But he's hardly singalongaTom. So I'm a big fan of his poetry but would much rather hear good cover versions than Ol' Gravel Voice singing them.

 gobits wrote:
Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen. None of them can sing and none does it more beautifully. Should be required listening for every storyteller out there (writer, poet, songwriter, scriptwriter, et al).
 Samuel Clemens was a master of this absurdist non sequitur style. Always a fun writing exercise.


Who are the philistines who rated this less than 9?
Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen. None of them can sing and none does it more beautifully. Should be required listening for every storyteller out there (writer, poet, songwriter, scriptwriter, et al).
 SweTex wrote:

Swordfishtrombones :

Well he came home from the war
with a party in his head
and modified Brougham DeVille
and a pair of legs that opened up
like butterfly wings
and a mad dog that wouldn't
sit still
he went and took up with a Salvation Army
Band girl
who played dirty water
on a swordfishtrombone
he went to sleep at the bottom of
Tenkiller lake
and he said "gee, but it's
great to be home."

Well he came home from the war
with a party in his head
and an idea for a fireworks display
and he knew that he'd be ready with
a stainless steel machete
and a half a pint of Ballentine's
each day
and he holed up in room above a hardware store
cryin' nothing there but Hollywood tears
and he put a spell on some
poor little Crutchfield girl
and stayed like that for 27 years

Well he packed up all his
expectations he lit out for California
with a flyswatter banjo on his knee
with a lucky tiger in his angel hair
and benzedrine for getting there
they found him in a eucalyptus tree
lieutenant got him a canary bird
and shaked her head with every word
and Chesterfielded moonbeams in a song
and he got 20 years for lovin' her
from some Oklahoma governor
said everything this Doughboy
does is wrong

Now some say he's doing
the obituary mambo
and some say he's hanging on the wall
perhaps this yarn's the only thing
that holds this man together
some say he was never here at all

Some say they saw him down in
Birmingham, sleeping in a
boxcar going by
and if you think that you can tell a bigger tale
I swear to God you'd have to tell a lie...

 
These are incredible lyrics, but I'm damned if I know what they mean...  He's like T. S. Eliot - a line means something totally other than what it appears to mean at first read. Tom Waits is not a superficial listen. Once you embrace one of his songs, you're in it for the long haul.

SIgh.  Sign me up. I'm in it for the long haul. This song is the first in (I figure) a long line of enigmas that I need to solve.

Tom is getting inducted to the rock and roll hall of fame March 11. Congratulations!


Great song (and album) from a prolific artist
 beerbear wrote:
One of the best from Tom Waits! Play more Waits, please!
 

I second that.  {#Cowboy}
brilliant, as usual.
 gekkosan wrote:
I suppose this should give me an idea of what the detractors of Dengue Fever feel. I just don't get this guy at all!
 

It seems to be you, would suck then.
She put the lime in the coconut, she drank them both up
She put the lime in the coconut, she drank them both up
She put the lime in the coconut, she drank them both up
IMO, this man can do no wrong.......er....musically that is!{#Cool}
brilliant!
That song kicked a bunch of ass!
{#Cool}

Exquisitely eclectic


This morning too! Great work Bill.
...And this morning's playlist just keeps getting better.

{#Devil_pimp}Smokin!
 govna wrote:
it'd be better if it were manbearpig.
 

Ah, that would be me.
Great use of the xylophone!
One of the best from Tom Waits! Play more Waits, please!
For those who like his voice, check out Ian Siegal! Master of the modern-blues genre!
Tom Waits is a man in a world of his own making. Sometimes he opens the door a bit and lets us peek in. If one is brave, push the door open a bit more and slip on in. But be forewarned, you will most likely never return.

Swordfishtrombones :

Well he came home from the war
with a party in his head
and modified Brougham DeVille
and a pair of legs that opened up
like butterfly wings
and a mad dog that wouldn't
sit still
he went and took up with a Salvation Army
Band girl
who played dirty water
on a swordfishtrombone
he went to sleep at the bottom of
Tenkiller lake
and he said "gee, but it's
great to be home."

Well he came home from the war
with a party in his head
and an idea for a fireworks display
and he knew that he'd be ready with
a stainless steel machete
and a half a pint of Ballentine's
each day
and he holed up in room above a hardware store
cryin' nothing there but Hollywood tears
and he put a spell on some
poor little Crutchfield girl
and stayed like that for 27 years

Well he packed up all his
expectations he lit out for California
with a flyswatter banjo on his knee
with a lucky tiger in his angel hair
and benzedrine for getting there
they found him in a eucalyptus tree
lieutenant got him a canary bird
and shaked her head with every word
and Chesterfielded moonbeams in a song
and he got 20 years for lovin' her
from some Oklahoma governor
said everything this Doughboy
does is wrong

Now some say he's doing
the obituary mambo
and some say he's hanging on the wall
perhaps this yarn's the only thing
that holds this man together
some say he was never here at all

Some say they saw him down in
Birmingham, sleeping in a
boxcar going by
and if you think that you can tell a bigger tale
I swear to God you'd have to tell a lie...

I suppose this should give me an idea of what the detractors of Dengue Fever feel. I just don't get this guy at all!
Jellyfishtrumpets
 govna wrote:
it'd be better if it were manbearpig.
 

I thought manbearpig played the swordfishtrombone...
 govna wrote:
it'd be better if it were manbearpig.
 
I lol'ed
Tom Waits is a master storyteller, perfect lyrics. But also a very strong instrumental sense, there's no one who can write a song like him. Not to mention that voice!


Another 420 friendly song?

{#Notworthy} Tom Waits is THE MAN

This is a love-it or hate-it situation. Reminds me of my military days. The friendly gals in the nice bar would tell me I was either a "Number 1 G.I." or a "Number 10 G.I." There was nothing in the middle.
toterola wrote:
Ahhh... I want to be Tom Waits when I grow up. Maybe Bruce will cover one of my songs. {#Notworthy}


Or Scarlett Johansson if you're really lucky.
Great f***ing Song!
Ahhh... I want to be Tom Waits when I grow up. Maybe Bruce will cover one of my songs. {#Notworthy}
sooo cool. Smooth 10.
'he came home from the war with a party in his head...'
this man has his own nice way of saying things
love it!!!!
{#Clap}


Love IT!  Now if only Waits wouldn't sell out in 3 seconds so i could see him live..  genius.
nigelr wrote:
A track even better than the cover art!
That's not saying much. Fun tune, though.
it'd be better if it were manbearpig.
There's a really cool song on this album called "In the neighborhood" and the video for the song is just as cool. It looks like it was shot on the Hal Roach Studios lot in 1935.
I just couldn't get it (!) first times hearing Tom Waits. Took me a long time to find just 1 song I could like. Now... In small doses, this guy is just awesome. An inspirational break from average massproduction$h*@t which makes one blind. Of all his cd's, this one is the best one of his, i think. My opinion.
I thought it was Captain Beefheart.
Exquisite TW, before he made his long slow slide into unlistenable.
Great album - thanks for playing!
Someone put this guy outta his misery
A track even better than the cover art!
skyguy wrote:
never could stand that dog.
I can't stand your MOM!
skyguy wrote:
never could stand that dog.
:LOL:
DoctorHooey wrote:
This has such an evocative sound. Love that marimba!
That's a swordfishmarimba!
This has such an evocative sound. Love that marimba!
On_The_Beach wrote:
Great album; please feel free to play anything from it; "Franks Wild Years" is always a treat.
never could stand that dog.
wally42 wrote:
Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, hmmmmmm Interesting if not weird,
Well, yeah. But you definitely can't define me by my musical choices. I have a deep and abiding affection for the absurd.
artmaven wrote:
And if you think that you can tell a bigger tale I swear by God you'd have to tell a lie Kinda sums up Tom, don't it? Nice choice and a great surprise tonight. Great upload!
We have a fictional (virtual) cattle station here called Speerwah where all the cattle have names and every stockman is a god.
There is always a place for a Tom Waits song like this in the RP stream of fish...even though I hate it.
BillnDollarBaby wrote:
Not my all time favorite TW song, but I am hard-pressed to find one that I don't like on some level. There are five sections in my music shelves... Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, comps, soundtracks and everything else.
Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, hmmmmmm Interesting if not weird, 10 TW is True american legend
And if you think that you can tell a bigger tale I swear by God you'd have to tell a lie Kinda sums up Tom, don't it? Nice choice and a great surprise tonight. Great upload!
Not my all time favorite TW song, but I am hard-pressed to find one that I don't like on some level. There are five sections in my music shelves... Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, comps, soundtracks and everything else.
Great album; please feel free to play anything from it; "Franks Wild Years" is always a treat.
jah_blessed wrote:
Yay! My upload. One of his best tracks, IMO. Love that bassline!
Thanks for sharing! Can't have too much Tom!
jah_blessed wrote:
Yay! My upload. One of his best tracks, IMO. Love that bassline!
congrats jah_blessed! good one! :good-vibes:
Yay! My upload. One of his best tracks, IMO. Love that bassline!