I first discovered the joy of Tom Waits amazingly scary voice about 10 years ago. A friend of mine used Gavin Bryars 'Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me yet' (featuring Waits) in a church service. After that I realised that it would be a complete travisty on my part if I were to ignore more music featuring a man who sang like that. It took me a few years to follow it up and I was re-acquainted with Waits after Bob Dylan played the magnificent 'On the Nickel' on his theme-time radio hour. Now that is a stunning song - just the earthiness of it and when his voice gets going it ties you up inside.
A year later I bought my first Waits' album - Swordfishtrombones (1983). The stand out track for me on this album apart from the blackly amusing 'Frank's Wild Years' is 'In the Neighbourhood'. As someone who hails from The Salvation Army the backing interested me because it wouldn't be out of place in a traditional worship meeting. Also, the trials and tribulations of the neighbourhood in the song sound like something that the SA would aspire to work in. Weirdly the next track and title track of the album actually mentions the Salvation Army - that's another one to add to my playlist. I don't know what it is about this song but the sadness of the neighbourhood and the brass sound produce a bleak yet strangely uplifting experience. It made me wonder whether we could introduce images from our neighbourhood into the songs we sing at church. It would certainly bring some reality to what is generally too heavenly for any earthly good. Perhaps I need to give it a go.