A Tom Waits Christmas

I got an early Christmas gift last night while flipping through channels with my girlfriend between airings of TBS’ “24 Hours of A Christmas Story”. We switched to the local PBS syndicate, KLRU, and came upon Tom Waits’ December 5, 1978 appearance at Austin City Limits! Being the huge Waits fan I am, I decided we had to watch for at least two or three songs. The first song was “On the Nickel,” followed by a wonderfully seedy performance of “Romeo Is Bleeding.” The third and final song must be one of my top five or ten songs of all time by anyone – “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis”.

CHRISTMAS CARD FROM A HOOKER IN MINNEAPOLIS

Hey Charlie, I’m pregnant and living on 9th Street
Right above a dirty bookstore off Euclid Avenue
And I stopped takin’ dope and I quit drinkin’ whiskey
And my old man plays the trombone and works out at the track

He says that he loves me, even though it’s not his baby
He says that he’ll raise him up like he would his own son
And he gave me a ring that was worn by his mother
And he takes me out dancin’ every Saturday night

And hey Charlie, I think about you everytime I pass a fillin’ station
On account of all the grease you used to wear in your hair
And I still have that record of Little Anthony and the Imperials(2) (3)
But someone stole my record player, now how do you like that?

Hey Charlie, I almost went crazy after Mario got busted
I went back to Omaha to live with my folks
But everyone I used to know was either dead or in prison
So I came back to Minneapolis, this time I think I’m gonna stay

Hey Charlie, I think I’m happy for the first time since my accident
And I wish I had all the money we used to spend on dope
I’d buy me a used car lot and I wouldn’t sell any of ’em
I’d just drive a different car every day dependin’ on how I feel

Hey Charlie, for chrissakes, if you want to know the truth of it
I don’t have a husband, he don’t play the trombone
I need to borrow money to pay this lawyer, and Charlie, hey
I’ll be eligible for parole come Valentine’s day

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