I Will Always Remember To Forget About You

The first album I’ve decided to review is Tom Waits’ 2002 album Blood Money. In true Tom Waits fashion, Blood Money is filled with what can only be described as Circus music. Calliopes, Tubas & Xylophones fill this album with Zydeco style rhythms. It is an album that hearkens back to one of my favorite Waits album’s Rain Dogs. About half of the album is oddly tame with songs like “Lullaby” that while slower still coincide with the overall theme of the album (as every album must have a theme or be nothing more than a collection of songs) having given up on life.

It is this theme that makes the narrator (this is what we’ll call him for the purposes of this piece) lose his faith in God & Humanity. This is never more evident than in the song, “Everything Goes to Hell”:

Why be sweet, why be careful, why be kind?
A man has only one thing on his mind
Why ask politely, why go lightly, why say please?
They only want to get you on your knees
There’s a few things that I never could believe

A woman when she weeps
A merchant when he swears
A thief who says he’ll pay
A lawyer when he cares
A snake when he is sleeping
A drunkard when he prays
I don’t believe you go to heaven when you’re good
And everything goes to hell, anyway

The Narrator comes off as having had a hard life, one of a sailor, not known for being the richest fellows. The Narrator is very resentful of the hand he has been dealt, but deals with it the only way he knows how booze, women & fighting. He doesn’t want to be pitied, nor cared for, but reminds everyone of his plight. He is merely a forgotten man. A lost soul ready to pack it in as in the final track “A Good Man is Hard To Find”:

I always play Russian Roulette in my head
It’s seventeen black or twenty-nine red
How far from the gutter
How far fron the pew
I will always remember to forget about you

A good man is hard to find
Only strangers sleep in my bed
My favorite words are good-bye
And my favorite color is red

A long dead soldier looks out
From the frame
No one remembers his war; no one
Remembers his name

Go out to the meadow;
Scare off all the crows
It does nothing but rain here,
And nothing will grow

A good man is hard to find
Only strangers sleep in my bed
My favorite words are good-bye
And my favorite color is red

Why I didn’t discover this album sooner is beyond me. It tells a tragic story through beautiful music in a way only Tom Waits can. The voice of the great Waits only adds to the feelings of sadness & pity you feel for a character that abhors both. He shows that the Narrator’s life of poverty & shame is exasperated only by the places he visits & sees how the other half lives. He knows, though, with unwavering logic that he will never become that. It is not who he is nor someone he truly aspires to be. He mocks the women he beds in these foreign lands as he says again in “Everything Goes to Hell” :

I only want to hear you purr and to hear you moan
You have another man who brings the money home
I don’t want dishes in the sink
Don’t ask me what I feel or what I think

That is because he lost any capacity for feeling long ago. In this way he is much like Mersault in Albert Camus’ existential masterpiece “The Stranger”. He knows not when he became lost, perhaps it is his birthright, but he doesn’t dwell on it & seems to care not that the woman he is sleeping with is married or that he could even care less about her. She is merely something to do (in a matter of speaking) while docked. If you have not heard the album I would greatly suggest you do so as it is Waits’ best album since Rain Dogs & was used for the play Woyzeck by Georg Büchner. Hopefully, this is the start of a great year of new music, new to me anyway & discoveries that change the way I see things. Change is not necessarily always a bad thing. Sometimes it is enlightening.

Everything Goes to Hell – Tom Waits

A Good Man is Hard To Find – Tom Waits

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