Tom Waits – “Time”

7b504dafb4d579c3cfce8a6e0b573b5e4e286107My memory seems to be lurking around the first boarding school I attended, Wroxall Abbey. One of the things that makes this exploration of memory so interesting to me is how it lingers over a particular time in my past and the blog posts seem to clump. Here’s one last post about Wroxall.

Coming to the letter T in the challenge, I thought immediately of ‘time’, and then I was transported to the small music room at Wroxall, so new it smelled of paint. We had a young music teacher who taught at the school for a very short time; I don’t know why she didn’t last.

She gifted us the basics of reading music, we sang some neat songs, and she played us tracks that opened our ears and minds. One of those pieces of music was the Raindogs album by Tom Waits. I fell in love with those interesting weird songs, with their deranged narratives and soulful, subliminal poetry.

When our teacher played us Time, my heart broke and I cried. I can’t remember how it affected the others in the room; I think I’d become too internal as I listened to be aware of the others. It was how bleak and lonely the characters in the song are, and the repetition of the word Time in the chorus that turns it into one of those laments in which a sad mood becomes suspended. For some reason this song spoke to me and all of a sudden George Michael and Simon Le Bon seemed woefully inadequate (which is kinda unfair – not the same animal at all).

I wonder if the song was touching a restless loneliness in me at the time?

The smart money’s on Harlow
And the moon is in the street
And the shadow boys
Are breakin’ all the laws
Oh and it’s east of East St. Louis
And the wind is making speeches
And the rain sounds
Like a round of applause

And Napoleon is weeping
In a carnival saloon
His invisible fiancée
Is in the mirror
And the band is goin’ home
It’s raining hammers
It’s raining nails
It’s true there’s nothing
Left for him down here

And it’s time time time
And it is time
And it’s time
And it’s time time
That you love
And it’s time time time

And they all pretend they’re orphans
And their memory’s like a train
You can see them getting
Smaller as they pull away
Oh and the things you can’t remember
Tell the things you can’t forget
That history puts a saint
In every dream

Oh she said she’d stick around
Till the bandages came off
But these mama’s boys
Just don’t know when to quit
And Matilda asks the sailors
Are those dreams or are those prayers
Close your eyes son and this won’t hurt a bit

And it’s time time time
And it’s time time time
And it’s time time that you love
And it’s time time time

Oh and things are pretty lousy
For the calendar girls
The boys just dive right off the cars
And splash into the street
Oh and when she’s on a roll
She pulls a razor from her boot
And a thousand pigeons
Fall around her feet

So put a candle in the window
And a kiss upon my lips
As the dish outside the window
Fills with rain
Oh and just like a stranger
With the weeds in your heart
Pay the fiddler off
Till I come back again

And it’s time time time
And it is time time time
And it’s time time time that you love
And it’s time time time

And it’s time time time
And it is time time time
And it’s time time time that you love
And it’s time time time

I’ve had Raindogs on loop in my house and car ever since I recalled the day I was introduced to Tom Waits. The song Time touches me still.


2 thoughts on “Tom Waits – “Time”

  1. I love Tom Waits. He had an interesting collaboration with Crystal Gayle for the “One from the heart” soundtrack. His gravelly voice juxtaposed to her silky smooth vocals was really interesting….

    • Finally got chance to sit down and enjoy this – sorry it’s taken so long to respond. It’s lovely. Think I’ll be listening to that a few times over the coming days. I’m crazy about Tom Waits. Love the jazz vibe of that track 🙂

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