Face To The Highway - Tom Waits
Bad As Me (2011)

I flew into Los Angeles yesterday.  Too many time zones and too much on my mind, I woke up in the wee hours and took a rented Crown Vic for a ride.  I'm attracted to the darker sides of LA.  Nothing to do with swimming pools and movie stars, a lot to do with the seedy bars where Charles Bukowski once roamed.  I passed a mexican club with three ambulances out front.  Rough night.  And as usual, these roads lead me to Tom Waits.

I love Tom Waits for the power of his lyrical imagery.  When he says "Hang On Saint Christopher", I am there in the car.  When he says "the crack of the pool balls / neon buzzin' ", I am there in the bar.  Bad As Me marks his first studio album in seven years.  It is worth the wait.

Face To The Highway has a real effect on me.  The simple verses detail a world full of things that lure men to their command: "The ocean wants a sailor / The gun wants a hand / The money wants a spender / And the road wants a man".

But it is the chorus that really moves me: "I turn my face to the highway / I turn my face to the highway / I turn my face to the highway / And I turn my back on you".  The desolate emotion of the vocals combine with the space in the melody to leave me hanging on every word.  As he turns his face to the highway, I know why he's leaving, and I'm there on that road.  Now that is songwriting.


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