Heartattack and Vine - Tom Waits
‘Liar, liar with your pants on fire…’
A turning point in several ways. While the album of the same name is plush with cinematic ballads the title track is a newer Waits in embryo, the voice harsh, the world nightmarish, the boho romanticism stripped away to reveal streets so bad drunks are evil incarnate, madness stalks heroin-junkies, under-age girls are ripe for exploitation, and all in all you’d be better off in Iowa. A real comedown song. The liar with his pants on fire may well be Waits himself, watching his romantic identification with this Bukowskian world come up short. Musically it’s hard-edged blues, a sour swagger through hell with Howlin’ Wolf and Captain Beefheart. Live on that year’s European tour he’s released from the drunken troubadour pose, suddenly he’s a contorted hipster, a yowling hepcat, all cubist angles and Bob Fosse hands. Soon Swordfishtrombones and Rainbirds would grow from this poisoned acorn.