I must have bought The Bone Machine around the time it came out. Aside from Sixteen Shells from a Thirty-Ought Six playing just about every time I set foot in the Y-Not II, was the first Tom Waits I'd really dug or dug into.
"Well I fell in love/With your sailor's mouth/And your wounded eyes," chords from seemingly crumbling upright pianos, pipe clanks and sideshow melodies -- these were splendid juxtapositions to my ears. This music made me feel like I did when I watched the kind of theatre or read the kind of plays that were making an impression on me at that time -- Theatre X, Mac Wellman, Len Jenkin, and the kinds of things I heard were going on in the basement at Cafe Voltiare in Chicago but could never scoot down 94 to see.
Worlds were opening. I'd been exposed to weird stuff already, but mostly in the realm of ear-bleedingly-loud guitars and, in theatre, the crisp absurdity of Pinter or the louche grime of Shepard. This stuff--it was now. New-now. It was happening now.
Man, there was something powerful about that. I can still conjure that feeling, a little bit.
This song, though -- this petulant playground rhyme merges past and present. It sticks out on the album, decidedly less...sophisticated sophistication.
I thought of it today because I sat in a business meeting where adults behaved like children, predictably, and I wanted to fly out of the window, over the grey lake to its thin, persistent line, where there might be some sunshine both on my cheeks and in people's hearts, to someplace where new things are happening now.