Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Come On Up To The House" - Tom Waits

**Well, I figured I needed to post today, because it is my 1 year blog anniversary!! Thank you to everyone for your interest, comments and support**

Of course I have heard of Tom Waits.  How could I not have? I'm music obsessed (Exhibit A: my Blog).  Until lately, I wouldn't have called myself a Tom Waits "fan", and I certainly wouldn't have blogged about him. People have tried to introduce me to Tom Waits in the same way I remember my high school friends introducing me to alcohol.

Step 1. Peer pressure - "You'll really like it"
Step 2. Hesitation - I wasn't sure that I would like it, and was a bit nervous to try.
Step 3. I tried, and found out that I did enjoy it. 
Step 4.  I decided that I didn't need to like ALL types of alcohol to "like" drinking, just as I didn't need to like every song or everything about Tom Waits to "like" him.

The first time I heard Tom Wait's voice in "Downtown Train", I actually thought it was some sort of joke. I've never heard vocals quite like his. My favorite, and the most accurate description I've ever heard of his voice was one I've used in a previous blog post. Critic, Daniel Durchholz described his voice as sounding, "like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car."  I'm surprised that I haven't swooned for Mr.Waits sooner, because he reminds me alot of my first love - Bob Dylan.  It's like finding yourself falling for someone new, but realizing you like them partly because you see qualities in them that remind you of a former lover.

It took me a bit to wrap my head around the enigma that is Tom Waits.  I couldn't decide whether he was crazy, or a genius.  Eventually I came to the conclusion that he is both - a crazy, genius.  As much as he reminds me of Dylan, he is his own force.  Waits is indescribable and incomparable; qualities that make a legend. He views things in a different type of light.  He makes comparisons, references, and uses language in a way that the average person would never think to, "Well you're high on top, of your mountain of woe."

Aurora Borealis
But I refuse to analyze Waits anymore, in the same way you don't analyze a sunset or Aurora Borealis.  You feel blessed to witness something so incredible that you can't question it, you just stand back and appreciate. 

Tom Waits
Waits ended his 1999 album, "Mule Variations", with the song, "Come On Up To The House."  My brother introduced me to this song, describing it as "beautiful". My brother, who is your typical hockey-playing, rum-drinking boy, actually used the word "beautiful". He was right.  In "Come On Up The House" Tom Waits uses his grizzly bear growl, to describe a safe haven/hope in a dark world.  "Well the moon is broken, And the sky is cracked, Come on up to the house."  He paraphrases a question by 17th century philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, "Does life seem nasty, brutish and short?" and answers with, "Come on up the house."

In a fan forum the line, "Come down off the cross, We can use the wood" is interpreted as meaning, "That all the energy you put into self-pity in an attempt to alienate yourself or rise above everybody else, could be put into building something worthwhile."

Well the moon is broken
And the sky is cracked
Come on up to the house
The only things that you can see
Is all that you lack
Come on up to the house

All your cryin don't do no good

Come on up to the house
Come down off the cross
We can use the wood
Come on up to the house

Come on up to the house

Come on up to the house
The world is not my home
I'm just a passin thru
Come on up to the house

There's no light in the tunnel

No irons in the fire
Come on up to the house
And your singin lead soprano
In a junkman's choir
You gotta come on up to the house

Does life seem nasty, brutish and short

Come on up to the house
The seas are stormy
And you can't find no port
Come on up to the house
There's nothin in the world


there's nothin in the world
that you can do
you gotta come on up to the house
and you been whipped by the forces
that are inside you

come on up to the house
well you're high on top
of your mountain of woe
come on up to the house
well you know you should surrender
but you can't let go
you gotta come on up to the house



  1. Tom Waits is AMAZING! Aside from all his raspy vocals, slow carnival waltzes and general shenanigans, Tom Waits writes some of the most beautiful lyrics and can tap into the imagination with amazing imagery.
    My fave albums are Blood Money, Rain dogs, Alice, and SwordFishTrombones...... and I swear that the song 'All The World Is Green' should be someones first dance at their wedding.
    I think I'm going to have to get back into a little Tom Waits myself!
    Thanks for the post!

  2. I just got into him very recently! I love his slower stuff, I will have to download "All The World Is Green", keep me posted on any others!