I was up late at the office listening to this masterpiece the other night, and I think it has officially passed Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue as my favorite album of all time.
It’s the perfect record for me—sad, funny, witty, weird and nostalgic. It makes me long for early-twentysomething latenights in some too-perfectly-imperfect-for-real-life diner I’ve always been subconsciously looking for—one where the coffee and the conversation is just a little better than usual, and where the waitress has a tired beauty in her eyes and the pie tastes like your grandmomma cooked it up from scratch. I’ve never actually found it, not yet—though I’ve come close many times. I’m not sure if it exists anywhere but in this album. Still, I’m gonna keep on looking.
My favorite part though, beyond Tom’s greasy-spoon jive croon and beatnik bluster—and the warm-as-a-wool-coat-in-winter horn and string arrangements—are all those lyrical gems, each stanza or one-liner a universe of truth unto itself...
“Love needs a transfusion, let’s shoot it full of wine / Fishin’ for a good time starts with throwin’ in your line”
“I Never saw the mornin’ ‘til I stayed up all night”
“The clouds are like headlines on a new front page sky”
“Wisconsin hiker with a cue-ball head / He’s wishin’ he was home in a Wisconsin bed / but there’s 15 feet of snow in the East / Colder than a well-digger’s ass”
“Is it the crack of the pool balls, neons 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”
“Found you stumblin’ / Stumblin’ on the heart of Saturday night”
“If I exorcise my devils, my angels may leave, too / When they leave, they’re so hard to find”
“Life’s so different than it is in your dreams”
“The moon’s a silver slipper / It’s pouring champagne stars / Broadway’s like a serpent pulling shiny, top-down cars”
“I’ve hocked all my yesterdays / Don’t try and change my tune”
“A solitary sailor / who spends the facts of his life / Like small change on strangers / Paws inside his pea-coat pocket / For a welcome 25 cents / And the last butt from a package of Kents / As he dreams of a waitress with Maxwell House eyes / And marmalade thighs, with scrambled yellow hair”
“Adam and Eve on a log, you can sink ‘em damn straight / Hash browns, hash browns, you know I can’t be late”