A pair of inspired and inspiring short stories from two masters of the territory. The first one is Tom Waits with an improv yarn complete with context, audience and story arc called The Pontiac. It’s from his Orphans triple CD set. Click the cover and Tom will expound for you. Lovely!
For sheer spookiness and concise yet ambiguous visions, it is hard to beat a tune from Lyle Lovett called Pontiac, the title tune from his second album released in 1987. Lyle evokes a remarkable story in a mere 108 words! And here they are:
I park my Pontiac
Down the hill out in back
Late every afternoon
With a coke and a cigarette
And all of the neighbours there
They see a nice old man
And the girl there across the street
She sits on her front porch swing
She never realized
What I told her with my eyes
How back in the second war
I killed twenty German boys
With my own bare hands
And the woman inside my house
She won’t stop talking
She never says a thing
She just keeps talking
And I might just leave her still
After the sun goes down
And I smoke this cigarette
Basically it’s an old man’s well-encapsulated lifestory but we sense his story isn’t over yet. Ominously he hints that the next chapter might suddenly include silence in the house, perfect permanent silence. This pivots on the various meanings of the phrase, “leave her still.” He has killed before with “his own bare hands.” We are left to imagine what will happen after the sun goes down and he finishes his cigarette. This would make a fine story for a movie in the right writer’s hands. Now watch Lyle’s video of his great song.
“I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.” The genius in the basement turns 62 years old today. Let’s celebrate with Tom’s thoughts! “Champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends.” “There ain’t no devil, only God when he’s drunk.” “We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness. We are monkeys with money and guns.” “A gentleman is someone who can play the accordion, but doesn’t.” “The big print giveth and the small print taketh away.” “I’ve never been a fan of personality-conflict burgers and identity-crisis omelets with patchouli oil. I function very well on a diet that consists of Chicken Catastrophe and Eggs Overwhelming and a tall, cool Janitor-in-a-Drum. I like to walk out of a restaurant with enough gas to open a Mobil station.” “Apparently the highest compliment our culture grants artists nowadays is to be in an ad — ideally naked and purring on the hood of a new car. I have adamantly and repeatedly refused this dubious honor. While the court can’t make me active in radio, I am asking it to make me radioactive to advertisers.” “Commercials are an unnatural use of my work. It’s like having a cow’s udder sewn to the side of my face. Painful and humiliating.” “George Bush is a fan of mine, he came to see me in the Seventies. His coke dealer brought him.” “The world is a hellish place, and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering.” Watch Satisfied from Tom’s new CD Bad As Me.
Wily Tom Waits holds a press conference regarding his 2008 summer tour.
The Tom Waits Song of the Week now on my Blogroll features one of his best songs and one of his most evocative videos – Downtown Train. Although it has a Guy Maddin feel to it, the video was directed by French photographer and video maker Jean-Baptiste Mondino. The old man at the beginning is boxer Jake LaMotta. Treat yourself.
As promised! Coming Friday! The Very First Reid’s Pop Song of the Month and Why. Who will it be? Got you curious?