Tuesday, April 03, 2007
I have a tendency every once in awhile to channel surf in the wee hours. Usually this activity ends up in frustration, after fruitless hours or so spent cycling through yawnsome home reno programs, unpleasant crime dramas, World War Two pornography, and the news in Tagalog. Sometimes I get lucky and hit a double bill of Dog the Bounty Hunter. I like Dog. And his pneumatic wife, Beth.
The other week, however, I serendipitously bumped into a screening of Tom Waits's Big Time, an marvellously peculiar and shambolic assembly of concert footage and theatrical scenes from his play, Franks Wild Years. It was even better than Dog.
At one point during the film Waits introduces a song with an anecdote about bad days. As I listened to his smoke-and-gravel delivery, I felt the hairs stand up on the back of my neck and had one of those rare moments of glorious clarity where you know that you're staring truth in the eye. So here, let me share his story with you:
"This is about all the bad days in the world. I used to have some really bad days. And I kept them in a little box. And one day I threw them out into the yard. Oh, it's just a couple of innocent bad days. Well, we had a big rain... I don't know what it was growing in, but I think we used to put egg shells out there and coffee grounds too.
Don't plant your bad days! They grow into weeks, the weeks grow into months, and before you know it you got yourself a bad year. Take it from me: CHOKE those little bad days! CHOKE 'em down to nothing! There are your days, CHOKE 'em! You choke my days, I'll choke yours!"
So, Dearest Friends, do we have a deal??
Tom Waits - Telephone Call From Istanbul (buy here)
Actually, the anecdote was an introduction to More Than Rain, but this song off of the same album sits deep in my heart. Not only does it contain the immortal advice "Never trust a man in a blue trench coat / Never drive a car when you're dead," but Dearest Wife and I danced our second dance of our wedding reception to it. And to help choke your bad days, I will dance to it for you, in a sort of slow, shuffling, hip-swaying, bum-shaking, arm-flapping stylee.