Season's end for Blue Valentine

For those who prefer to binge-listen to their content, a final summing-up of our latest season of Song by Song on Tom Waits. With Caspar Salmon, Elizabeth Sankey, Jen Adamthwaite, Dave Pickering and Kit Lovelace in tow, Sam and Martin have ploughed their way through not just the 10 tracks from Blue Valentine, but also two contemporaneous(ish) Waits songs: Annie's Back In Town & Rainbow Sleeves.

We're at a turning point, arguably the first or second of Waits's career, but over the last couple of albums we've seen the writing on the wall. Waits is beginning to experiment more boldly with style, arrangement and theme, as well as in his own vocal performance. Many fans will anticipate the beginning of the 80s with Heartattack and Vine as being a major shift in his style and outlook, and we're looking forward to considering this in the coming episodes.

So, for those who want to prepare fully, find below a full playlist of all of our season six episodes, as well as Spotify and YouTube links to all the songs we're discussing. And, if you've missed out on any episodes or tracks from previous series, everything is ready and waiting to play at the bottom of the Closing Time, The Heart of Saturday Night, Nighthawks at the Diner, Small Change and Foreign Affairs pages at

Thanks for listening, we'll see you very soon for season seven.

St. James Hospital, Traditional, Benjamin Luxon (via YouTube)

Annie’s Back In Town, Paradise Alley OST, Tom Waits (1978)

(Meet Me In) Paradise Alley, Paradise Alley OST, Tom Waits (1978)

Paradise Alley, dir. Sylvester Stallone (1978)

Kentucky Avenue - Blue Valentine [063]

As Jen and Dave make their final appearance for this season of Song by Song, the album turns to a very different style and tone of writing as Waits looks back on the details and memories from his own life to tell a story of childhood dreams. With comparisons to the work and life of Ian Dury, and the benefits and drawbacks of specific concrete imagery in lyric writing, we continue our journey through Blue Valentine.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Kentucky Avenue, Blue Valentine, Tom Waits (1978)

Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part 3), Single/Jukebox Dury, Ian Dury & The Blockheads (1979/1981)

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Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard - Blue Valentine [062]

This week on Song by Song we (finally) examine the influence of Tom Waits on the musical writing of Joss Whedon, as well as a perhaps inevitable comparison with The King of Rock and Roll. As Martin, Jen, Dave and Sam discuss more of the density and ambiguity of Waits's lyric writing, the question of how to represent danger and evil in songwriting arises, along with the extent of Elvis's influence on... everything?

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Whistling’ Past the Graveyard, Blue Valentine, Tom Waits (1978)

Trouble, King Creole, Elvis Presley (1958)

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Wrong Side of the Road - Blue Valentine [061]

With scant regard for conventions of highway safety, Tom Waits insists on heading into oncoming traffic in this sixth track from Blue Valentine. Jen and Dave return to discuss the application of Russian Formalist theories of literature to the songwriting, the singing techniques of Waits as compared with Nancy Sinatra, and the extremity of the character he's able to adopt.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Wrong Side of the Road, Blue Valentine, Tom Waits (1978)

These Boots Are Made For Walkin’, Boots, Nancy Sinatra (1966)

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$29.00 - Blue Valentine [060]

Sam and Martin are joined by our latest guest hosts Dave Pickering and Jen Adamthwaite for more debates around the authenticity and appropriation of musical styles, as well as the difficulty of speaking for and about people from different backgrounds.

Nb: the Tracy Chapman track we discuss is "Behind The Wall" from the album Tracy Chapman.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
$29.00, Blue Valentine, Tom Waits (1978)

Shot Gun Blues, Briefcase Full Of Blues, The Blues Brothers/Donnie Walsh (1978)

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