She drove a big ol' Lincoln with suicide doors
And a sewing machine in the back
And a light bulb that looked like an alligator egg
Was mounted up front on the hood
And she had an Easter bonnet that had been signed by Tennessee Ernie Ford
And she always had saw dust in her hair
And she cut two holes in the back of her dress
and she had these scapular wings
That were covered with feathers and electrical tape
And when she got good and drunk
She would sing about Elkheart, Indiana
Where the wind is strong and folks mind their own business
And she had at least a hundred old baseballs that she'd taken from kids
And she collected bones of all kinds
And she lived in a trailer under a bridge
And she made her own whiskey and gave cigarettes to kids
And she'd been struck by lightning seven or eight times
And she hated the mention of rain
And she made up her own language
And she wore rubber boots
And she could fix anything with string
And her lips were like cherries
And she was stronger than any man
And she smelled like gasoline and Rootbeer Fizz
And she put mud on a bee sting I got at the creek
And she gave me my very first kiss
And she gave me my very first kiss
Talking 'bout my little Kathleen
She's just a fine young thing
Someday she'll wear my ring
My little Kathleen
With International Women's Day also happening in the meantime, the Kardashian nude selfie, and the subsequent backlash, these topics have been playing on my mind. I read a great article on the presentation of women in art and the media, which pointed out why perhaps the Kardashian selfie riled so many people - here.
Having listened carefully to the lyrics; Tom Waits is someone who paints vivid pictures of female characters, and often writes from the point of view of a woman, though there are a couple of moments in his writing that don't sit well with me, particularly when younger women are heavily sexualised, or presented as lonely individuals, waiting for their man to return. There are some fantastic bad-ass women as well, funny women, and women who appear to operate on their own terms. Waits is also beautifully tender and sentimental....Here are a few examples....
As he dreams of a waitress with maxwell house eyes, marmalade thighs, and scrambled yellow hair
You know the ladies I been seeing off and on, well they spend you're lovin and they're gone. You can't be loving someone who's savage and cruel, take your love and then leave on out of town.
You know your perfume, well it won't let me be.
Your eyes are enough to blind me, you're like looking at the sun.
She was sharp as a razor, soft as a prayer
She's up against the registrar with an apron and a spatula
She's a moving violation, from her conk down to her shoes
The whores hike up their skirts and search for drugstore prophylactics, mouths cut just like razor blades and their eyes just like stilettos.
And the radiators steaming and her teeth are in a wreck
When she came she honked the horn
You see a redhead in a uniform will always get you horny.
She dropped her draws and stuck her face ass out the window, shouting get a loada this, and gave the finger to the moon
Besides I never talk to strangers anyway
Who asked you to annoy me
I see you on a Saturday night, in a penny arcade with your hair tied back
Stuffed a thousand dollars in her blouse and cast a cruel and unusual punishment.
She said I'm a sucker for a fella in a cowboy hat
And with a knees upon the glove compartment she took out her Barrett's, and her spilled out like root beer, and she popped her gum and arched her back.
Some nights my heart pounds like thunder, don't know why it don't explode
And when they pulled her from the wreck, she still had on her shades
The ghost of your memory is a sizzle and a kiss
She wore red shoes, red dress, sad night, a compact with a cracked mirror, a bottle of evening and paris perfume. Bring a raincoat, bring a suitcase, bring your dark eyes, and wear those red shoes
Little girls with nothing in their jeans, pretty blue wishes, sweet little things
I know a good hotel in west Hollywood be just right for you
Put on a little perfume, red ribbon in your hair
Dive down here beside me, let me hold you in the dirt. Sink your teeth into my shoulder, dig your nails into my back. Tell that little girl to let go of my sleeve, you'll be all women when I get you. Come baby fall in love with me.
See that little jersey girl in a see-through top, with the pedal pushers sucking on a soda pop, well I bet she's still a virgin, but it's only 25 to 9
When the bitch is wound up, and her parents are gone, man you wanna hear her with the sirens on
I paid 15 dollars for a prostitute, with too much make up and broken shoe
He hung his wild years on a nail he drove through his wife's forehead
His wife was a spent piece of used jet trash, made good bloody Mary's, kept her mouth shut most of the time.
Well things are pretty lousy from a calendar girl, the boys just dive right off their cars and splash into the street, and when they're on a roll, she pulls a razor from her boot, and a thousand pigeons fall around her feet
Aunts may has gone insane, she lives in the doorway of an old hotel, and the radio is playing opera, all she ever says in go to hell
He has a mistress, she's Puerto Rican, and I heard she has a wooden leg
All the doughnuts have names that sound like prostitutes
And the girl behind the counter has a tattooed tear, one for every year he's away. Such a crumbling beauty, there's nothing wrong with her 100 dollars won't fix.
She has that razor sadness that only gets worse with the clang and thunder
I'll never kiss a gun street girl again
I just know that she's made of smoke but I lost my way, she knows that I don't look but I must pay.
She's such a scream. Nails in cement. The flowers red, the well is full inside her skull. Her lips are red she the Queen, she's such a scream
I fell in love with your sailors mouth and your wounded eyes
She was 15 years old and she'd never seen the ocean, she climbed into a van with a vagabond. And the last thing she said was I love you mom, and a little rain never hurt no one
Where the blue eyed girls and red guitars, and the naked river flows
The prettiest girl in all the world, lives in a little Spanish town. I left her for a bony lass, and I told her I'd see her around. Well that bony lass has a heart of glass.
She lives in a house that way back off the road, she drove a camel through a needle, she's diamond that wants to stay coal. There's amnesia in her kiss, she's a swan and I pistol, and she will follow you like this. She's whiskey in a teacup, she gives blonde a lousy name, she's a bonsai Aphrodite.
With charcoal eyes and marrowed hips.
The moon was gold and her hair like wind
You don't meet nice girls in coffee shops
I miss your broken china voice
By a 99 cent store, she closed her eyes and started swaying, but it's so hard to dance that way when it's cold and there's no music
A good man is hard to find, only strangers sleep in my bed,
And my favourite words are goodbye, and my favourite colour is red
Marie, you are the wild blue sky, men do foolish things,
You turn kings into beggars and beggars into kings
She's a rose, she's a pearl, she the spin on my world, all the stars make their wishes on her eyes
She's a princess in a red dress, she's the moon in the mist to me
And from a window across the lawn I watched you undress, wearing a sunset of purple that rose and strangled ebony curls. You wear two lavender orchids, one in your hair and one on your hip
I hear your champagne laugh
Her bright red cheeks are painted on and she's laughing her head off in the Reeperbahn
Topping the bill was horse-faced Ethel, one-eyed Myra queen of the galley. Yodelling Elaine, queen of the air. She had a tiny bubble of spittle around her left nostril and a rusty tear. She had a Tattoo gun made out of an old cassette motor and a guitar string.
My baby's so fine, even the car looks good from behind
She was in over her head, she thought she could stand up in the deep end.
She thought she had the moon in her pocket.
He wore on his arm just like jewellery.
Don't let a fool kiss ya, never marry for love
What's more romantic than dying in the moonlight?
I'm burning with all this pain, put out the fire, make it rain
I close my eyes every night and dream that I can hold you.
She sunk like a hammer in the lake
If you've found someone new put me back in the crowd.
Take back these wings, put the sun behind a cloud
I want you to kiss me like a stranger. I wanna believe our loves a mystery.
She stole the blush from the rose.
They told me you were no good, but I know you take care of all my needs.
Old boyfriends, like burnt out light bulbs on Ferris wheels
There's a blue-eyed girl, with a red bow tie, a string of pearls, with one good eye
And a crow turns into a girl
And she tastes like the sea
And there's a rose upon her breast, where I long to lay my head.
And her hair was so yellow, and the wine was so red.
So close your eyes, open your heart to the one whose dreaming of you
If she ever loves another I'm gonna take morphine and die
Her hair was as blue black as a bucket of tar, skin as white as a cuttlefish bone
She left in the fall, that's her picture on the wall.
She always had a little drop of poison.
He loved the woman but she wouldn't stop screaming.
He stripped his woman, stripped her bare
I'll lose everything but I won't let go of your hand
She's a cheap motel with a burned out sign
Love is when opportunity meets with preparation
All you left me was a feather on an unmade bed
The One Who Got Away
It was down Seven Sisters road, on a balmy summer night
She'd walked that way a hundred times, and always been alright
Except this time the predators had all come out to play
The lights were bright, it was fight or flight
She's the one who got away
Passing by the bus stop, the first man blocked her path
He cornered her into the park, holding something sharp
She should've screamed then, come what may
Dodge that man, run as fast as you can
You'll be the one who got away
The next two were more passive, they simply chose to leer
They made sucking noises as she passed, still shaking with the fear
Here she comes, hey sexy what's your name
Choose to ignore, keep your eyes on the floor
You might be the one who got away
The last encounter was a group of three, shouting in her face
She'd given them a wide berth, expected something less
In any case by now there was nothing she could say
She was nearly home, her wits were blown
She had almost got away
Not that it should matter how she happened to be dressed
The clothes were super baggy, the hair a big old mess
It makes no difference how you look, or if it's night or day
You're still just meat, lone on the street
But this time, she's the one who got away
She swapped her high heels for boots some time ago
The alarm she wears not just for show
She'll make certain that she's not the one to blame
Maybe tonight's the night, she'll have to run for her life
I hope, she'll be the one that gets away