My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Brief Background: Heartattack and Vine is the sixth studio album by Tom Waits. The album was recorded in the Summer of 1980 and released that September. It is probably most known for the song Jersey Girl, which Bruce Springsteen made famous with a live cover.
What I think: It’s really a crying shame that with all of the amazing albums Tom Waits released in the 70’s, (my favorites are Closing Time, Heart of Saturday Night and Small Change) this is just the second time we are visiting him (The first was 1975’s Nighthawks at the Diner). We start here with his first 1980’s eighties venture and there better be AT LEAST two more, I’d like three but that is probably pushing it.
Anyway, I am glad they chose this album from Waits. In it you have his usual stories of shady characters in his now trademark growl, but on this album he really pushes the production. Songs like “Mr. Siegal” have a great bouncy blues feel while others like “On the Nickel” have a lovely string section behind them. They all just come across as feeling fully developed.
It’s hard to pick my favorite tracks as the whole thing is solid. For me though, “Saving All My Love for You” is a great sequel to the Closing Time highlight “Rosie”. “Jersey Girl” is a touching tribute to his future wife and seems like he sat down to intentionally write a Springsteen song. “Ruby’s Arms” is a fitting sad closing ballad, that may be a bit much, but is beautiful none the less. My favorite though is “On the Nickel”, it’s Waits at his best bringing all of his talent to bring those lyrical, vocal, musical and emotional qualities together in a heartbreaking and near perfect song.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? I do agree is should be here (along with many others). In the beginning, I didn’t like the rasp his voice had developed by this point, now I think I enjoy it more than the cleanness of his first couple records.
Rating (Out of 5) 4.5
Is this my first time hearing this album? No (114/482)
Amount that are new to me: 76%