My 30 Favorite Tom Waits Songs

I had no idea how difficult this was going to be. A talent like this deserves at least a Top 100 Songs. This will have to do…

1.World Keeps Turning
“Put a hat on your head. Will you paint the whole damn town red with me?”
“And the tears on my face. And the skates on the pond. They spell Alice.”
3.Day After Tomorrow
“Tell me, who does God choose? Whose prayers does he refuse?”
4.I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You
“Well the room is crowded, people everywhere. And I wonder, should I offer you a chair?”
5.Gun Street Girl
“With her fireman’s raincoat and her long yellow hair, well they tied her to a tree with a skinny millionaire.”
6.The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)
“And the newspapers were fooling, and the ash trays have retired, ’cause the piano has been drinking.”
7.Take It With Me
“It’s got to be more than flesh and bone. All that you’re loved is all you own.”
8.Ol’ 55
“And it’s six in the morning; gave me no warning. I had to be on my way.”
9.All the World is Green
“Maybe when our story’s over we’ll go where it’s always spring.”
10.Bottom of the World
“…razorweed onion and peacock squirrel. And I dreamed all night about a beautiful girl.”
11.Come On Up to the House
“And your singing lead soprano in a junkman’s choir. You gotta come on up to the house.”
12.Jockey Full of Bourbon
“2 pairs of pants and a mother vest. I’m full of bourbon, I can’t stand up.”
13.Hoist That Rag
“The sun is up the world is flat. Damn good address for a rat.”
14.Widow’s Grove
“And with your last breath, you moaned too drunk to wake.”
15.Hold On
“Everyone is looking for someone to blame. But you share my bed, you share my name.”
16.Rains On Me
“Forty monkeys drowning in a boiling sea. Everywhere I go it rains on me.”
17.Hang Down Your Head
“Tear the promise from my heart, tear my heart today.”
18.Picture In A Frame
“I’m gonna love you till the wheels come off. Oh yea.”
19.If I Have To Go
“Tell all the others, you’ll hold in your arms, that I said I’d come back for you.”
20.Misery is the River of the World
“If there’s one thing you can say about ManKind, there’s nothing kind about man.”
21.Poor Edward
“He took a suite of rooms and hung himself and her from the balcony irons.”
“I lived on nothin’ but dreams and train smoke. Somehow my watch and chain got lost.”
23.(Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night
“Is it the barmaid that’s smilin’ from the corner of her eye? Magic of the melancholy tear in your eye.”
24.Clap Hands
“Moon in the window, a bird on the pole. Can always find a millionaire to shovel all the coal.”
25.Fannin Street
“Give a man gin, give a man cards, give an inch he takes a yard.”
26.Old Shoes (& Picture Postcards)
“Honey, my heart was not born to be tamed.”
27.Trampled Rose
“I know that rose, like I know my name.”
28.Georgia Lee
“…somewhere a baby is crying for her mom as the hills turn from green back to gold.”
29.Road To Peace
“They fill the children full of hate to fight an oil man’s war and die upon the road to peace.”
“And I thought that I knew all there was to. Lonely, lonely, lonely eyes….”


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14 Responses to “My 30 Favorite Tom Waits Songs”

  1. Rodger Jacobs Says:

    I’ll have to address this list sometime this evening; mine is completely different but I see that we share a fondness for Waits. Simply one of the best lyricists ever.

  2. Ferguson Says:

    Hahaha, but this would not have to be considered a contradiction, for Waits’ music has such a literary feel to it. Such heartbreaking, quirky, strange, odd tales weaving throughout each record, each individual song.

  3. Rodger Jacobs Says:

    Exactly. It’s the perfect marriage of music and literature; that sort of recording artist gets my attention. For that reason I used to admire the music of Randy Newman before he started writing sappy music scores for movies. When I was younger I admired The Eagles and The Who (still like the Who) for their ability to create story-driven “theme” albums. Pink Floyd as well. And, of course, the incomparable Bob Dylan, another master storyteller in song.

  4. Ferguson Says:

    I know what you mean about Newman. Being a lot younger (I’m 24) I first knew about his participation in Disney soundtracks before finding his early recordings, so I went from thinking he was so-so, to reaching back and discovering that he actually was the great writer he has so often be called. I have never been much of an Eagles fan, but The Who have some really excellent earlier stuff. I completely agree on Pink Floyd and Dylan, the latter of whom is best described, as you put it, incomparable. I also have a very big appreciation for Neil Young, especially when I dug deeper into his career and found so many gems beyond the mainstream successes.

  5. Rodger Jacobs Says:

    Sorry I left Neil Young off the list. He definitely qualifies. Glad to see someone your age can appreciate the early Randy Newman work, let alone was willing to do the homework to make such a discovery. Kudos to you, Ferguson. I’ll check back later tonight with my Waits compendium.

    BTW, just got into the band Calexico via my interview with Willy Vlautin — those guys absolutely rock.

  6. Ferguson Says:

    I’ve got a couple of Calexico records. I like them quite a bit, and in particular their latest one, “Garden Ruin”. They also have a collaborative EP with Iron & Wine they did called “In the Reins” that was very good.

    Thanks a lot for reading and commenting. It’s always good to meet someone who likes to converse about the arts and such.

  7. Rodger Jacobs Says:

    I enjoyed our dialogue. I’ll be back for sure. Check out my site when you get a chance. I think you’ll like it over there.

  8. Ferguson Says:

    I definitely plan on both taking a look at your site and inevitably liking it, I’m sure.

  9. Rodger Jacobs Says:

    1. Bottom of the World
    I’m handcuffed to the bishop and the barbershop liar

    2. Road to Peace
    Young Abdel Madi Shabneh was only 18 years old

    3. Innocent When You Dream
    It’s memories that I’m stealing

    4. Telephone Call From Istanbul
    Never drive a car when you’re dead

    5. Frank’s Theme
    Dream away the tears in your eyes

  10. Ferguson Says:

    Bottom of the World is certainly one of my favorite Waits songs. I see you have a lot from Frank’s Wild Years on here, which is one of a couple records from him that I am just now starting to become more familiar with. Trying to polish up the whole Waits library.

  11. Rodger Jacobs Says:

    The only albums I have are “Orphans – Bastards” (still have not listened to that one), “Orphans-Brawlers”, “Blood Money”, “Swordfishtrombones”, “Frank’s Wild Years”, and “Rain Dogs”.

  12. Ferguson Says:

    I have nearly all of his stuff, my favorites being “Alice”, “Mule Variations”, “Closing Time”, and “Rain Dogs”. Can’t really go wrong with anything from Waits. “Real Gone” and “Nighthawks at the Diner” are awesome as well.

  13. hamish mitchell Says:

    Hey man not a bad list but wheres Train Song???

  14. top 10 songs chart Says:

    top 10 songs chart…

    […]My 30 Favorite Tom Waits Songs « FERGUSON REVIEWS[…]…

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