A Look Back At Tom Waits’ Debut, ‘Closing Time’…

Last Calls…

Tom Waits 1973 recording debut to the world is somewhat strange. He never seemed to repeat the country/folk sound of his first record on any of his future discography. It’s almost hard to explain, but let me try to paint a picture…

As you stumble down the sidewalk ignoring all of the hustle and bustle of the city, passing the junkies and winos, you enter through disheveled door ways into a ratty bar. There’s a poorly put together country-western band in the corner attempting to throw in some jazz. It’s nothing amazing, but it has a unique and vulnerable quality to it. The music speaks to you and the three other lost souls (not including the bartender) in the room. You can hear the long nights, pain, loneliness, and thuds of all the bottles you’ve shined off. This is Closing Time

Widely spread due to The Eagles covering it, “Ol’ 55” sets the tone for what is to come. Closing Time is filled with old time country and folk jamboree’s. Songs like “I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You“, “Rosie“, and “Old Shoes (& Picture Postcard)” have a deep roots feel to them that sound more like a porch sing along than a jazz standard. They have a timeless sound that resonates through generations.

The more swinging numbers come in the form of the obviously jazz influenced “Ice Cream Man” and “Virginia Avenue” with the late night blues “Midnight Lullaby“.

However, it’s the stand out tracks that really make this album. “Martha” is a melancholic lullaby that anyone who has ever suffered from a broken heart or regretful decision can immediately relate to. “Grapefruit Moon” is a perfect singer/songwriter type ballad that encompasses you with a longing for the days of childhood or a lost love. However, the title track and instrumental “Closing Time” has to be my favorite number off of the record. It is the perfect conclusion wrapping it up in a big blue bow. There’s a sort of “last call” element to the song that also creates a wonderful musical atmosphere.

Closing Time is a timeless album that produces a raw and naked sound with songs that the whole party can sing along to, but it is also an interesting look into the heart of an interesting man. Waits created a somewhat lonely concept album. Every song has a theme of long lost loves, heartaches, and one night stands. It’s a stellar record that goes missed by many. For now though, I guess it’s time to pull a chair up and order a drink…

You can check out the full album below: