Happy Birthday to the Would-Be Bard of "Fannin Street," Tom Waits

Rocks Off would like to wish happy birthday to that hero of barflies, beatniks and gravel-garglers everywhere, Tom Waits. Waits turns the big 6-0 today, and released Glitter and Doom, a live account of the Southern U.S. tour that brought him to Jones Hall in June of last year, a couple of days before Thanksgiving.

tomwaits glitteranddoom.jpg
Although Rocks Off doesn't specifically remember him playing it at Jones (we don't think he did), Glitter does feature "Fannin Street," the ballad Waits presumably wrote about Houston, recorded live in Knoxville, Tenn. Rocks Off couldn't determine precisely when Waits wrote it, but the song was first released on his 2006 odds & sods box set, Orphans.

We say "presumably" because although Waits does identify "Houston town" in the first line, he also calls Fannin a "crooked street." Save a little dipsy-doodle down by the Women's Hospital of Texas, Fannin is one of the straightest thoroughfares in Houston, from its origins above Buffalo Bayou (where it splits off from San Jacinto) to its terminus south of Loop 610 at Holmes Road.

That's another thing. If Waits really had spent any time on Fannin Street, he probably would have mentioned a hospital or two. Or the zoo. (He may well have based it on this Leadbelly song we found.) Oh well. We appreciate the thought, Tom. Thanks for putting the song on the album, and thanks again for stopping by Jones Hall last year.

Rocks Off especially remembers the show as the first one we reviewed after taking over as music editor. Although nothing from Jones made it onto Glitter, we found a "Waltzing Matilda" from the show on YouTube this afternoon. The camera work is a little shaky, but the sound is good and it's almost eight minutes long. Enjoy it after the jump.


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