Tom Waits – The Heart of Saturday Night Album Review

My new job is excellent. Not only can I take an extra thirty minutes for lunch and go to the gym (I have to make it up at the end, obviously), it’s also forced me into reading every morning and evening on the commute, and I arrive home by half seven, at the latest. Absolutely the best thing about it, though, is the fact that I can listen to music all day at my desk as I work.

Yesterday and today, I have been listening to The Heart of Saturday Night on repeat, as per a recommendation from my good friend Sean. I’ve listened to bits and pieces of Tom Waits’ work before, but only ever Bone Machine the whole way through (and I wasn’t really listening). The Heart of Saturday Night, though, is impossible to ignore. It’s a beautiful, heart-wrenching jazz album, which is very different to the ‘Going Out West’ Waits I know.

It plays like a concept album in the same way The Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not does. Tom Waits—or the alcoholic, seedy Tom Waits created for this record—steadily gets drunker and drunker over the course of this forty minute album, and by the end he’s singing a number which matches in its melancholy the croons and sighs of Chet Baker on Chet Baker Sings. ‘The Ghosts of Saturday Night (After Hours at Napoleone’s Pizza House)’ along with ‘San Diego Serenade’ are my two favourite numbers on this record. The former, especially (and may I briefly add, what a name for a track), really gets me. I don’t know anywhere as seedy as the place he describes, but ‘a waitress with Maxwell House eyes/And marmalade thighs with scrambled yellow hair’—poetry.

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