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Nighthawks At The Diner (Remastered)

by Tom Waits

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late night and early morning low clouds with a chance of fog chance of showers onto the afternoon with variable high cloudiness and gusty winds, gusty winds at times around the corner of Sunset and Alvarado things are tough all over when the thunder storms start increasing over the southeast and south central portions of my apartment, I get upset and a line of thunderstorms was developing in the early morning ahead of a slow moving coldfront cold blooded with tornado watches issued shortly before noon Sunday, for the areas including, the western region of my mental health and the northern portion of my ability to deal rationally with my disconcerted precarious emotional situation, it’s cold out there colder than a ticket taker’s smile at the lvar Theatre, on a Saturday night flash flood watches covered the southern portion of my disposition there was no severe weather well into the afternoon, except for a lone gust of wind in the bedroom a high pressure zone, covering the eastern portoon of a small suburban communoty with a 103 and millibar high pressure zone and a weak pressure ridge extending from my eyes down to my cheeks cause since you left me baby and put the vice grips on my mental health well the extended outlook for an indefinite period of time until you come back to me baby is high tonight low tomorrow, and precipitation is expected
on a foggy night, an abandoned road in a twilight mirror mirage with no indication of a service station or an all night garage, I was misinformed I was misdirected cause the interchange never intersected leaving me marooned beneath a bloodshot moon all upon a foggy night, on a foggy night an abandoned road, in a blurred brocade collage, is that a road motel? I can’t really tell, is that what you might call some kind of a vacancy lodge cause there’s no consolation, what kind of situation to be aimlessly askew amidst a powder blue? no tell tail light clue spun like the spell you spin this precarious pandemonium I’m stranded, all upon a foggy night all upon a foggy night on a foggy night
nighthawks at the diner of Emma’s 49er, there’s a rendezvous of strangers around the coffee urn tonight all the gypsy hacks, the insomniacs now the paper’s been read now the waitress said eggs & sausage and a side of toast coffee and a roll, hash browns over easy chili in a bowl with burgers & fries what kind of pie? In a graveyard charade a late shift masquerade 2 for a quarter, dime for a dance with Woolworth rhinestone diamond earrings, and a sideways glance and now the register rings and now the waitress sings (chorus) the classified section offered no direction it’s a cold caffeine in a nicotine cloud now the touch of your fingers lingers burning in my memory I’ve been 86ed from your scheme I’m in a melodramatic nocturnal scene I’m a refugee from a disconcerted affair as the lead pipe morning falls and the waitress calls (chorus)
all my friends are married every Tom & Dick & Harry you must be strong to go it alone here’s to the bachelors and the bowery bums and those who feel that they’re the ones that are better off without a wife I like to sleep until the crack of noon midnight howlin’ at the moon goin’ out when I wanto, comin’ home when I please I don’t have to ask permission if I want to go out fishing and I never have to ask for the keys never been no Valentino had a girl who lived in Reno left me for a trumpet player didn’t get me down he was wanted for assault though he said it weren’t his fault well the coppers rode him right out of town (chorus) selfish about my privacy as long as I can be with me we get along so well I can’t believe I love to chew the fat with folks and listen to all your dirty jokes I’m so thankful for these friends I do receive (chorus)
there’s a blurr drizzle down the plateglass, as a neon swizzle stick stirrin’ up the sultry night air and a yellow biscuit of a buttery cue ball moon rollin’ maverick across an obsidian sky as the busses go groanin’ and wheezin’, down on the corner I’m freezin’; on a restless boulevard at a midnight road I’m across town from EASY STREET with the tight knots of moviegoers and out of towners on the stroll and the buildings towering high above lit like dominoes or black dice all the used car salesmen dressed up in Purina Checkerboard slacks and Foster Grant wrap-around, pacing in front of rainbow EARL SCHEIB $39.95 merchandise like barkers at a shootin’ gallery they throw out kind of a Texas Guinan routine “Hello sucker, we like your money just as well as anybody else’s here” or they give you the P. T. Barnum bit “There’s a sucker born every minute you just happened to be comin’ along at the right time” come over here now you know . . . all the harlequin sailors are on the stroll in search of “LIKE NEW,” “NEW PAINT,” decent factory air and AM-FM dreams all the piss yellow gypsy cabs stacked up in the taxi zones waitin’ like pinball machines to be ticking off a joy ride to a magical place, waitin’ in line like “truckers welcome” diners with dirt lots full of Peterbilts, Kenworths, Jimmy’s and the like, and they’re hiballin’ with bankrupt brakes, over driven, under paid, over fed, a day late and a dollar short but Christ I got my lips around a bottle and my foot on the throttle and I’m standing on the corner standin’ on the corner like a “ just got in town” jasper, on a street corner with a gasper lookin’ for some kind of Cheshire billboard grin stroking a goateed chin, and using parking meters as walking sticks on the inebriated stroll with my eyelids propped open at half mast but you know . . . over at Chubb’s Pool and Snooker it was a nickle after two, yea it was a nickle after two and in the cobalt steel blue dream smoke, it was the radio that groaned out the hit parade and the chalk squeaked, the floorboards creaked and an Olympia sign winked through a torn yellow shade, old Jack Chance himself leanin’ up against a Wurlitzer and eyeballin’ out a 5 ball combination shot impossible you say? . . . hard to believe?, perhaps out of the realm of possibility? naaaa he be stretchin’ out long tawny fingers out across a cool green felt with a provocative golden gate and a full table railshot that’s no sweat and I leaned up against my bannister wandered over to the Wurhtzer and I punched A-2 I was lookin’ for something like Wine, Wine, Wine, by the Night Caps starring Chuck E. Weiss or High Blood Pressure by George (cryin’ in the streets) Perkins- no dice “that’s life,” that’s what all the people say ridin’ high in April, seriously shot down in May, but I know I’m gonna change that tune when I’m standin’ underneath a buttery moon that’s all melted off to one side It was just about that time that the sun came crawlin’ yellow out of a manhole at the foot of 23rd street and a dracula moon in a black disguise was making its way back to its pre-paid room at the St. Moritz Hotel (scat) and the El train came tumbling across the trestles and it sounded like the ghost of Gene Krupa with an overhead cam and glasspacks and the whispering brushes of wet radials on wet pavement and there’s a traffic jam session on Belmont tonight and the rhapsody of the pending evening, I leaned up against my bannister and I’ve been looking for some kind of an emotional investment with romantic dividends kind of a physical negotiation is underway as I attempt to consolidate all my missed weekly rendezvous, into one–low–monthly payment through the nose with romantic residuals and leg akimbo but the chances are that more than likely I’ll probably be held over for another smashed weekend
warm beer and cold women, I just don’t fit in every joint I stumbled into tonight that’s just how it’s been all these double Knit strangers with gin and vermouth and recycled stories on the naugahyde booths with the platinum blondes and tobacco brunettes I’ll be drinkin’ to forget you lite another cigarette and the band’s playin’ something by Tammy Wynette and the drinks are on me tonight all my conversations I’ll just be talkin’ about you baby borin’ some sailor as I try to get through I just want him to listen that’s all you have to do he said I’m better off without you till I showed him my tattoo now the moon’s rising ain’t no time to lose time to get down to drinking tell the band to play the blues drinks are on me, I’ll buy another round at the last ditch attempt saloon warm beer and cold women, I just don’t fit in every joint I stumbled into tonight that’s just how it’s been all these double knit strangers with gin and vermouth and recycled stories on the naugahyde booths with the platinum blondes and tobacco brunettes I’ll be drinkin’ to forget you lite another cigarette and the band’s playin’ somethin’ by Jennie Barnett and the drinks are on me tonight
I guess things were always quiet around Putnam County kind of shy and sleepy as it clung to the skirts of the 2-lane, that was stretched out like an asphalt dance floor where all the oldtimers would hunker down in bib jeans and store bought boots lyin’ about their lives and the places that they’d been suckin’ on Coca Colas and be spittin’ Days Work they’d been suckin’ on Coca Colas and be spittin’ Days Work until the moon was a stray dog on the ridge and the taverns would be swollen until the naked eye of 2 a.m., and the Stratocaster guitars slung over Burgermeister beer guts, and swizzle stick legs jackknifed over naugahyde stools and the witch hazel spread out over the linoleum floors, the pedal pushers stretched out over midriff bulge and the coiffed brunette curls over Maybelline eyes wearing Prince Machiavelli, Estee Lauder, smells so sweet I elbowed up at the counter with mixed feelings over mixed drinks and Bubba and the Roadmasters moaned in pool hall concentration as they knit their brows to cover the entire Hank Williams Song Book and the old National register was singing to the tune of $57.57 until last call, one more game of 8 ball and Berneice would be putting the chairs on the tables, some one come in say “Hey man, anyone got any Jumper Cables, is that a 6 or a 1 2 volt?” and all the studs in town would toss ‘em down and claim to fame as they stomped their feet boasting all about being able to get more ass than a toilet seat. And the GMC’s and the Straight 8 Fords were coughing and wheezing and they perculated as they tossed the gravel underneath the fenders to weave home a wet slick anaconda of a two lane with tire irons and crowbars a rattlin’ with a tool box and a pony saddle you’re grinding gears, shifting into first yea and that goddamn tranny’s just getting worse with the melodies of “see ya later” and screwdrivers on carburetors talkin’ shop about money to loan and palominos and strawberry roans See ya tomorrow, hello to the Mrs. money to borrow and goodnight kisses the radio spittin’ out Charlie Rich sure can sing that sonofabitch and you weave home, weavin’ home leaving the little joint winking in the dark warm narcotic American night beneath a pin cushion sky and it’s home to toast and honey, start up the Ford, your lunch money’s there on the draining board, toilet’s runnin’ shake the handle, telephone’s ringin’ it’s Mrs. Randal where the hell are my goddamn sandals and the porcelain poodles and the glass swans staring down from the knick-knack shelf with the parent permission slips for the kids’ field trips pair of Muckalucks scraping across the shag carpet and the impending squint of first light, that lurked behind a weeping marquee in downtown Putnam and would be pullin’ up any minute now just like a bastard amber Velveeta yellow cab on a rainy corner and be blowin’ its horn, in every window in town.
well the dawn cracked hard just like a bull whip cause it wasn’t takin’ no lip from the night before as it shook out the streets, the stew bums showed up just like bounced checks, rubbin’ their necks and the sky turned the color of Pepto-Bismol and the parking lots growled and my old sport coat full of promissory notes and a receipt from a late night motel and the hawk had his whole family out there in the wind, and he’s got a message for you to beware cause he be kickin’ your ass in, in a cold blooded fashion dishin’ out more than a good man can bear I got shoes untied, shirt tail’s out, ain’t got a ghost of chance with this old romance just an apartment for rent down the block lvar Theatre with live burlesque and the manager’s scowlin; feet on his desk boom boom against the curtain you’re still hurtin’ and then push came to shove, shove came to biff girls like that just lay you out stiff maybe I’ll go to Cleveland or get me a tattoo or somethin; my brother in law’s there skid mark tattoo on the asphalt blue was that a Malibu Liz Taylor and Montgomery Clift cummmg on to the broads with the same ol’ riff. Hey baby come up to my place we’ll listen to some smooth music on the stereo, no thank you got any Stan Getz records no I got Smothers Brothers so I combed back my Detroit jack up my pegs, wiped my Stacy Adams jackknifed my legs, yea I got designs on a moving violation hey baby, you put me on hold and I’m out in the wind and it’s getting mighty cold . . . colder than a gut shot bitch wolf dog with 9 sucking pups pullin’ a 14 trap up a hill in the dead of winter in the middle of a snow storm with a mouth full of porcupine quills (scat) yea well I don’t need you baby It’s a well known fact I’m 4 sheets to the wind I glad you’re gone I glad you’re gone I’m finally alone glad your gone, but I wish you’d come home and I struggled out of bed cause the dawn was crackin’ hard like a bullwhip cause it wasn’t taking no lip from the night before as it shook out the streets the stew bums showed up just like bounced checks rubbin’ their necks, and the sky turned the color of Pepto-Bismol and my old sport coat full of promissory notes and the hawk had his whole family out there in the wind, he got a message for you to beware kickin’ you ass in, in a cold blooded fashion he be dishin’ out more than a good man can bear well hey baby lets take it to Bakersfield get a little apartment somewhere
Nobody 02:50
Nobody, Nobody will ever love you the way I could love you cause nobody is that strong love is bitter sweet and life’s treasure’s deep but no one can keep a love that’s gone wrong Nobody, Nobody will love you the way that I could cause nobody’s that strong cause nobody’s that strong Nobody, Nobody will ever love you the way I could love you cause nobody is that strong you’ve had many lovers you’ll have many others but they’ll only just break your poor heart in two Nobody, Nobody will love you the way that I could cause nobody’s that strong cause nobody’s that strong
well you see I happened to be back on the east coast a few years back tryin’ to make me a buck like everybody else, well you know times get hard and well I got down on my luck and I got tired of just roamin’ and bummin’ around, so I started thumbin’ my way back to my ol’ hometown you know I made quite a few miles on the first couple of days, and I figured I’d be home in a week if my luck held out this way but you know it was the third night I got stranded, it was out at a cold lonely crossroads, and as the rain came pouring down, I was hungry, tired freezin; caught myself a chill, but it was just about that time that the lights of an old semi topped the hill you should of seen me smile when I heard them air brakes come on, and I climbed up in that cab where I knew it’d be warm at the wheel well at the wheel sat a big man I’d have to say he must of weighed 210 the way he stuck out a big hand and said with a grin “Big Joe’s the name and this here rig’s called Phantom 309” well I asked him why he called his rig such a name, but he just turned to me and said “Why son don’t you know this here rig’ll be puttin’ ‘em all ta shame, why there ain’t a driver on this or any other line for that matter that’s seen nothin’ but the taillights of Big Joe and Phantom 309” So we rode and talked the better part of the night and I told my stories and Joe told his and I smoked up all his Viceroys as we rolled along he pushed her ahead with 10 forward gears man that dashboard was lit like the old Madam La Rue pinball, a serious semi truck until almost mysteriously, well it was the lights of a truck stop that rolled into sight Joe turned to me and said “I’m sorry son but I’m afraid this is just as far as you go You see I kinda gotta be makin’ a turn just up the road a piece,” but I’ll be damned if he didn’t throw me a dime as he threw her in low and said “Go on in there son, and get yourself a hot cup of coffee on Big Joe” and when Joe and his rig pulled off into the night, man in nothing flat they was clean out a sight so I walked into the old stop and ordered me up a cup of mud sayin’ “Big Joe’s settin’ this dude up” but it got so deathly quiet in that place, you could of heard a pin drop as the waiter’s face turned kinda pale, I said “What’s the matter d id I say somethin’ wrong?” I kinda said with a half way grin. He said “no son, you see it’ll happen every now and then. You see every driver in here knows Big Joe, but let me tell you what happened just 10 years ago, yea it was 10 years ago out there at that cold lonely crossroads where you flagged Joe down, and there was a whole bus load of kids and they were just comin’ from school and they were right in the middle when Joe topped the hill, and could have been slaughtered except Joe turned his wheels, and he jackknifed, and went into a skid, and folks around here say he gave his life to save that bunch of kids, and out there at that cold lonely crossroads, well they say it was the end of the line for Big Joe and Phantom 309, but it’s funny you know, cause every now and then yea every now and then, when the moon’s holdin’ water, they say old Joe will stop and give you a rode, and just like you, some hitchhiker will be comin’ by” “So here son,” he said to me “get yourself another cup of coffee, it’s on the house, you see I want you to hang on to that dime, yea you hang onto that dime as kind of a souvenir, a souvenir of Big Joe and Phantom 309”


Recorded in front of a live audience at the Record Plant recording studio in Los Angeles in 1975, Nighthawks at the Diner debuts some of Waits’ greatest classics like “Warm Beer, Cold Women” and “Eggs and Sausage” with a crack Jazz ensemble backing him up and some of the greatest stage patter ever committed to record.


released March 9, 2018


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