So here I am back at home keeping the home fires burning. It was a good day for it. The snow that we weren’t supposed to have is still in my driveway and the wind is rearranging it as artistically as it’s able. I gave up on the whole thing and pretended there was nothing going on outside my windows. I did not want to do snow today.
The day after the lad leaves is always a little unsettled. Takes me a day to get my routine back and shake off the blues.
We had a really good trip down to school yesterday. Lots of talking and laughter and more talking. So much talking, in fact, that we missed the New York State Thruway entirely and didn’t realize it until about 45 minutes after we had passed it. By then we were in PA, which was the big clue.
We stopped at a Pennsylvania Visitor Center and I inquired where we were. Somewhere in the Poconos. Kind of like the last outpost on earth, I think. Mountains all around, no cell phone signals, and a whole lot of nature. As luck would have it, we were parked right on a road that was almost a clear shot into Easton—less than two hours away. That was a surprise, because it would get us there nearly an hour ahead of schedule. I think we inadvertently found a short cut, though I don’t know if I could do it again.
So, we finally pulled into the dorm parking lot and the lad’s roommate came rushing out to help us unload the car. It was the first time I had seen their room this year. It’s a huge L-shaped room. Huge. Their other roommate is spending the semester in Germany, so just the two lads have the room to themselves. They’re going to move the other lad’s bunk and desk out and spread out a bit. They had all sorts of ideas. The other lad kind of sighed in the midst and said, “It’s so good to be home.”
Before I left, the lad wanted me to see his fraternity house. It’s a big old stone house on campus—on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s probably one of the best kept and most kindly treated fraternity houses in the world. They are obligated to take care of it and they do. There is obviously a lot of money invested in that house on a regular basis. It’s absolutely beautiful with ornate woodwork and wainscot, hardwood (some parquet) floors and massive fireplace overmantels. They all gleam. It’s a nice place to hang one’s hat and lounge, that’s for sure.
Then it was time to leave and the lad walked me out to my car. Hugs, kisses, more hugs, more kisses. I did NOT cry. Actually, I’m not sure whether his feelings were a little hurt by that or not. He looked at me quizzically, as if expecting me to burst out at any second. But I didn’t. He was so happy to be there and the way his frat brothers leaped around him and gave him hugs and slaps on the back, as if they hadn’t seen him in months, just made me feel good. They were all, clearly, simply thrilled to be back with each other. It made me grin like a fool. And I did most of the way home.
I miss not having him clattering around the house, but as his roommate said, “It’s so good to be home.” He is. And is as happy as a clam.
On my drive home, I listened to lots of radio. Mostly public radio stations. Saturday night is a good night for public radio. One of the stations, somewhere in Connecticut, offered an hour of American Routes. This week’s featured artists were Tom Waits and Dave Brubeck. I was able to hear the entire Tom Waits segment before the radio signal began to fade.
Tom Waits is an artist whose work I have never really been acquainted with. He’s apparently a rather eccentric individual. Unquestionably an amazing musician and poet/lyricist, though his voice is one of those love it or hate it types. You listen and think, “The man has no voice” yet I couldn’t get enough. I think the same way about Dylan, though. The show closed out with his “Tom Traubert’s Blues (Waltzing Matilda)” song. I’d never heard him sing it before, though I recognized it as one Rod Stewart performed. It’s apparently not one of his best songs, but it’s one of his best known. He closes out his concerts with it more often than not, I think. Songs don’t move me too often, but this one made my eyes go all misty. I still don’t know exactly why. And I’ve listened to it again today a few times (gotta love the web!)...still chokes me up.
So, here’s a YouTube video from a few years back. Once you get over the shock of his voice....it’s a beautiful song. And yeah, compared with the rendition that Rod Stewart sang...well, there’s no comparison. Rod Stewart’s rendition was weak tea.
I’ve been having a good time going through all the Tom Waits videos on YouTube. I really like this one (Train Song), too. There’s a good selection. He’s amazing. How’d I go this long without discovering him!
I think it was Saturday Night Live that had these snippets which were part or/became the impetus for the film Down By Law. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090967/
This was my introduction to Tom Waits. I have but almost never listen to Swordfish Trombones and Mule Variations. There’s a “song” on there called “What’s he building?” which gets brought to mind anytime the cats start tunneling in their boxes.
I was listening to the show too; I try to catch it whenever I remember.
Waits seems to be revered by an awful lot of his contemporaries and a younger generation of songwriters.
The original “Waltzing Matilda” is fiercely anti-war, which may be why it’s so well-received during his concerts these days.
No one has come up with a definitive explanation for Tom Traubert’s Blues. Lots of speculation, but Waits won’t say. I’ve read that just before he wrote it, he went on a bender in Copenhagen with an artist called Matilda. If so, one might guess that it didn’t turn out very well.
Reading the lyrics, an argument could also be made that Matilda is a bottle of booze.
The song’s subtitle is Three Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen.
Dunno. When he sings it, it’s soulful, though. To the bone.