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Tom Waits, Martha

June 29, 2006


I am only a new fan of Tom Waits, but already have found a song of his that resonates.

“Martha”, from his 1973 album Closing Time, is a melancholy four and a half minutes. The narrator calls an old (evidently very old) girlfriend, probably drunk & certainly desperate to hear her voice, to reconnect with her, to connect with anyone at all.

Operator, number please, it’s been so many years
Will she remember my old voice while I fight the tears
Hello, hello there, is this Martha, this is old Tom Frost
And I am calling long distance, don’t worry ‘bout the cost
Cause it’s been forty years or more, now Martha please recall
Meet me out for coffee, where we’ll talk about it all

His voice suits the lyrics. If you’ve never heard Waits’ voice, it’s not one I can adequately describe, but it is one you can imagine belonging to someone calling after forty years have passed since an adult relationship.

I guess that our being together
Was never meant to be
Martha, Martha, I love you can’t you see

  • Tom Waits – Martha
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