Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Song of The Day #20 - Tom Waits - 'Road to Peace'

A young Waits pays homage to the Mt. Rushmore presidents sculpture via the medium of his face.

20 posts in a row! Wow! Party streamer! I went past saying "that's a record!" about two weeks ago because I've been spectacularly lazy on this blog over the 18 months since it's conception so my previous record was like one post in a row but still, I'm pretty pleased with myself. If you write a blog (and who doesn't these days?) you'll know that sometimes, it takes an almost superhuman effort to write a post, regardless of length or subject. It just seems a bit like work I suppose. At least it feels like work enough for me to procrastinate hopelessly whenever given the smallest of opportunities. Much like that whole education thing and y'know working too, procrastination has been one of the only constants in my life. Take it from me friends, there's only three things guaranteed in life - death, taxes and putting shit off til' you can't put it off no' mo'.

So, now I find myself hunched over my virus ridden laptop thumping at these keys and praying that something approaching readable comes out the other side. My only saving grace is that I really love music so thinking of dope songs to write about is never too tasking. Today I give you a 7+ minute wonder about the Middle East from Tom Waits. Stay with me here.

Tom Waits - 'Road to Peace'

We have no friends, America only has interests.

Astounding song. Astounding piece of writing. The ongoing situation in the Middle East is difficult to write about. Let's be straight about that. Whatever your opinion on the matter, you wouldn't think that it naturally lends itself well to a long story song. However, if you to write a song about it, it'd be very difficult not to come off sounding very political and/or very bias to one side or another. Tom Waits doesn't do that here because he's an incredible songwriter. Waits almost coldly writes straight at the heart of the issue (his point is no one's right. People are just dying and it's wrong. Yeah, there's a bit of 'fuck Bush' too, of course) yet by including the case study and back story of a young male suicide bomber he also creates tremendous amounts of empathy in the listener. I was hooked after the first verse and I'm guessing that, upon listening, you felt or feel the same.

Read the lyrics as you listen, there's so many quoteable lines in this song that they start sounding throwaway after a while. Put it this way, if I could write songs like this, I wouldn't procrastinate at all. I'd just be writing and writing. Sat in the same chair for years on end, looking crazier and crazier by the month, people crossing the road when they saw me, blissfully unaware of my lifes mission and my talent. Man, it'd be great. Actually, thinking about it, I've pretty much just described Tom Waits there haven't I? Eek.

And if God is great and God is good why can't he change the hearts of men?
Well maybe God himself is lost and needs help
Maybe God himself he needs all of our help
Maybe God himself is lost and needs help
He's out upon the road to peace

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