Thursday, June 25, 2009

Favorite Albums: "Small Change" (1976, Asylum)

If I had to pick one album, a "desert island" album, it would be Tom Waits' "Small Change."

This was Waits' fourth album, and is an exercise in vocal cosplay. It is a mixture of New Orleans-styled melodies and spoken word. It is both the saddest and happiest group of songs I have come across. Waits' gravely voice makes you feel pain in songs like Bad Liver and a Broken Heart, laugh during The Piano must be Drinking, marvel at the ad-libs in Step Right Up, and drown in the story of Small Change.

My favorite track is Invitation to the Blues, which is a very noir sounding song of a man on his way out of town who falls head over heels in love with a waitress. He is scared to talk to her, but debates not leaving town as "I could eat here every night, what the Hell have I got to lose?" He begins to create a fantasy life for her where she is a socialite mistress; a position she fells from and becomes one of these Diner Angels that are too good for their station, but must survive. Maybe if they could survive together, perhaps they could thrive? Ultimately the decision must be made, the bus is comming.

Bad Liver and Broken Heart is the story of a man who lost his woman, and describes his story to a stranger in a bar. As the story progresses, Waits' character goes from near-jovial to belligerent with smattering on unrelated issue. Presumable the character is drinking during the storytelling. He also throws in a lot of male behavioral-stereotype.

I Can't Wait to Get Off Work (and See My Baby on Montgomery Avenue) is both happy and sad. It is hopeful, and an excellent way to end the album, and leads nicely into Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen).


Lemmy Caution said...

A damn fine choice.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Brilliant album.

Keith said...

Great choice.

Paul Brazill said...

Great l.p!well disected.

Rick "The Hat" Bman said...

Also one of my favorite albums. Tom Waits is awesome.

Darius Whiteplume said...

Wow, glad I pick my friends well! I have given people who are really into music copies of that and they hate it (philistines! :-).

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