Tom Waits (from the album Heartattack and Vine)
The dawn of a new decade signaled a change in the musical weather for Tom Waits. He delivered his final album on his Asylum Records contract with Heartattack and Vine. The title became a mainstay on album charts for three months and his best selling album to that date. Heartattack and Vine was the last release from Tom Waits to fully feature the cast of characters that roamed through his previous six album releases. The songs of Tom Waits experienced an urbanization post-Heartattack and Vine, his heroes still host to left-of-center stars seen through the noir night vision of his album cycles that began with debut release Closing Time. Tom Waits career has spanned multiple decades, his songs cherished for sonic innovation, his releases touchstones for museum quality music.
Transient humans populated the songs of Tom Waits in the 1970’s, beginning with his 1973 debut before moving on to new territory after Heartattack and Vine. The album tenderly cradles Tom Waits’ patented hoarse growl, rocking “On the Nickel” gently in its lullaby string swells and lightly touched piano rambles, using the rhythm of jungle drums to chase the night with “’Til the Money Runs Out”. The title track welcomes as album opener, Tom Waits shaking hands all around and introducing his street corner buds, warning that ‘this stuff’ll probably kill you, let’s do another line’ and testifying that ‘there ain’t no devil that’s just god when he’s drunk’. Heartattack and Vine follows “Mr. Siegal” as he sashays across the Nevada line, rings church bells in a sleepy town with “Saving All My Love for You”, finds salvation in the horns wrapped in “Ruby’s Arms”, and rumbles like a subway car heading into “Downtown”. Bruce Springsteen took a tune from Heartattack and Vine, making it his own as part of his live show with his cover of the Tom Wait’s track “Jersey Girl”.
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