Monday, 9 June 2008

Nirvana - by Tom Waits [edit: text by Bukowski]

Only a person who's been truly alive could compose this.
(embarrassing update: Anonymous, who seems to be visiting my blog a lot lately, has informed me that this is a prose poem by Charles Bukowski) I've never been much of a Bukowski fan, but the way this one is delivered is really lovely.

the text:

Not much chance, completely cut loose from purpose,
he was a young man riding a bus through North Carolina on the way to somewhere.
And it began to snow.

And the bus stopped at a little cafe in the hills and the passengers entered.
And he sat at the counter with the others, and he ordered, the food arrived.
And the meal was particularly good.
And the coffee.

The waitress was unlike the women he had known.
She was unaffected, and there was a natural humor which came from her.
And the fry cook said crazy things.
And the dishwasher in back laughed a good clean pleasant laugh.

And the young man watched the snow through the window.
And he wanted to stay in that cafe forever.
The curious feeling swam through him that everything was beautiful there.
And it would always stay beautiful there.

And then the bus driver told the passengers that it was time to board.
And the young man thought: "I'll just stay here, I'll just stay here."
And then he rose and he followed the others into the bus.
He found his seat and looked at the cafe through the window.
And then the bus moved off, down a curve, downward, out of the hills.

And the young man looked straight forward.
And he heard the other passengers speaking of other things,
or they were reading or trying to sleep.
And they hadn't noticed the magic.
And the young man put his head to one side,
closed his eyes, and pretended to sleep.

There was nothing else to do,
just to listen to the sound of the engine,
and the sound of the tires
in the snow.

We've all felt like that for half-seconds, minutes, and the lucky of us, entire stretches of five minutes at a time, been perfectly in the moment. Tom [and Chuck] not only experienced it, but managed even to communicate it back to us.
--say what you like about Tom Waits. This little spoken word piece is perfect.

from Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards

(and here's a tom waits original, in case that one didn't convince you of his brilliance)

Step Right Up is about the funniest snake-oil holler I've ever heard.

sounds like he's running for office.

Step right up, step right up, step right up,
Everyone's a winner, bargains galore
That's right, you too can be the proud owner
Of the quality goes in before the name goes on
One-tenth of a dollar, one-tenth of a dollar, we got service after sales
You need perfume? we got perfume, how 'bout an engagement ring?
Something for the little lady, something for the little lady,
Something for the little lady, hmm
Three for a dollar
We got a year-end clearance, we got a white sale
And a smoke-damaged furniture, you can drive it away today
Act now, act now, and receive as our gift, our gift to you
They come in all colors, one size fits all
No muss, no fuss, no spills, you're tired of kitchen drudgery
Everything must go, going out of business, going out of business
Going out of business sale
Fifty percent off original retail price, skip the middle man
Don't settle for less
How do we do it? how do we do it? volume, volume, turn up the volume
Now you've heard it advertised, don't hesitate
Don't be caught with your drawers down,
Don't be caught with your drawers down
You can step right up, step right up

That's right, it filets, it chops, it dices, slices,
Never stops, lasts a lifetime, mows your lawn
And it mows your lawn and it picks up the kids from school
It gets rid of unwanted facial hair, it gets rid of embarrassing age spots,
It delivers a pizza, and it lengthens, and it strengthens
And it finds that slipper that's been at large
under the chaise lounge for several weeks
And it plays a mean Rhythm Master,
It makes excuses for unwanted lipstick on your collar
And it's only a dollar, step right up, it's only a dollar, step right up

'Cause it forges your signature
If not completely satisfied, mail back unused portion of product
For complete refund of price of purchase
Step right up
Please allow thirty days for delivery, don't be fooled by cheap imitations
You can live in it, live in it, laugh in it, love in it
Swim in it, sleep in it,
Live in it, swim in it, laugh in it, love in it
Removes embarrassing stains from contour sheets, that's right
And it entertains visiting relatives, it turns a sandwich into a banquet
Tired of being the life of the party?
Change your shorts, change your life, change your life
Change into a nine-year-old Hindu boy, get rid of your wife,
And it walks your dog, and it doubles on sax
Doubles on sax, you can jump back Jack, see you later alligator
See you later alligator
And it steals your car
It gets rid of your gambling debts, it quits smoking
It's a friend, and it's a companion,
And it's the only product you will ever need
Follow these easy assembly instructions it never needs ironing
Well it takes weights off hips, bust, thighs, chin, midriff,
Gives you dandruff, and it finds you a job, it is a job
And it strips the phone company free take ten for five exchange,
And it gives you denture breath
And you know it's a friend, and it's a companion
And it gets rid of your traveler's checks
It's new, it's improved, it's old-fashioned
Well it takes care of business, never needs winding,
Never needs winding, never needs winding
Gets rid of blackheads, the heartbreak of psoriasis,
Christ, you don't know the meaning of heartbreak, buddy,
C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon
'Cause it's effective, it's defective, it creates household odors,
It disinfects, it sanitizes for your protection
It gives you an erection, it wins the election
Why put up with painful corns any longer?
It's a redeemable coupon, no obligation, no salesman will visit your home
We got a jackpot, jackpot, jackpot, prizes, prizes, prizes, all work guaranteed
How do we do it, how do we do it, how do we do it, how do we do it
We need your business, we're going out of business
We'll give you the business
Get on the business end of our going-out-of-business sale
Receive our free brochure, free brochure
Read the easy-to-follow assembly instructions, batteries not included
Send before midnight tomorrow, terms available,
Step right up, step right up, step right up
You got it buddy: the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away
Step right up, you can step right up, you can step right up
C'mon step right up
(Get away from me kid, you bother me...)
Step right up, step right up, step right up, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon
Step right up, you can step right up, c'mon and step right up,
C'mon and step right up


Anonymous said...

I hate to break this to you, but Nirvana is Tom Waits reading a Charles Bukowski Poem.

As much as I love Waits,
he is no Bukowski.

Roboseyo said...

My bad. The lyrics website where I looked up the text didn't credit the lyrics to bukowski. I'd still take Tom over Charles, personally, but that's just me.

So, let me amend my previous statement:

from "but tom even communicates it back to us. . . that's why I say he's a genius" to

"Tom Waits is a genius because he can deliver even a Bukowski poem in such a way that I love it." ;)

thanks for the info, anon.