The first time I paid attention to Tom Waits’ lyrics, I realized that he’s a noir storyteller in the Chandler/Hammett tradition. His early albums are full of songs about wastrels and losers who live on the seedy side of town. Skid Row is not just a crappy band to Tom Waits.
The Heart Of Saturday Night is Waits’ second album and the first one I heard. I bought a copy after seeing him open for Frank Zappa and the Mothers at the Circle Star Theatre in San Carlos, CA, of all places. It was a theatre-in-the-round type venue, which originally featured old school show biz performers like Sammy Davis Jr.
I also recall seeing the Three Stooges there. I think my mother was auditioning for The Good Place by indulging me. As we say in New Orleans, the Circle Star Theatre ain’t dere no more. I guess it’s okay to conflate my two hometowns since Waits starred in one of the best films set in New Orleans: Jim Jarmusch’s Down By Law. We are a good egg.
Time for another digression: I was a high school age smoker when I saw the Zappa/Waits show. My friends and I tried to keep up with Frank Zappa who seemed to always have a cigarette going. We’d never heard of Tom Waits or we would have done likewise with him. I gave up trying mid-way through Zappa’s set. It’s a pity that I didn’t quit for good at that point. I continued to smoke off and on for ten more years with a brief relapse in my first semester at law school. Now I hate smoke almost as much as I hate Trump.
Back to The Heart of Saturday Night. The cover art was done by Napoleon. No, not that one but an artist named Lynn Lascaro who used Napoleon as a psuedonym. He also did the cover for the Zappa/Mothers classic, One Size Fits All.
You’re not seeing double. Here’s the whole damn album on the YouTube: