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Music / Blue Valentine

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Blue Valentine is the sixth studio album by Tom Waits, released in 1978 through Asylum Records. The album is best known for the audience favorites "Blue Valentines", "Kentucky Avenue", "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis", and his cover of West Side Story's "Somewhere".


Side One

  1. "Somewhere" (3:53)
  2. "Red Shoes by the Drugstore" (3:14)
  3. "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" (4:33)
  4. "Romeo Is Bleeding" (4:52)
  5. "$29.00" (8:15)

Side Two

  1. "Wrong Side of the Road" (5:14)
  2. "Whistlin' Past the Graveyard" (3:17)
  3. "Kentucky Avenue" (4:49)
  4. "A Sweet Little Bullet from a Pretty Blue Gun" (5:36)
  5. "Blue Valentines" (5:49)

Christmas Card from a Troper in Minneapolis

  • Anti-Christmas Song:
    • "Red Shoes by the Drugstore":
      And Santa Claus is drunk in the ski room
      And it's Christmas Eve in a sad cafe
    • "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis". An unnamed woman tells the reader of the card, Charlie, how she's turned her life around by getting married and quit using drugs and that's she's finally happy. However, at the end of the card, she reveals she was lying about having a husband (and presumably everything else) and needs money to pay a lawyer since she's in jail.
    • "Wrong Side of the Road":
      Strangle all the Christmas Carols
  • As the Good Book Says...:
    • "A Sweet Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun":
      I'd rather die before I wake
    • "$29.00"
      But he ain't no good Samaritan
  • Badass Boast: "Whistlin' Past The Graveyard":
    I'm callin' out my bloodhounds
    Chase the devil through the corn
    Last night I chugged the Mississippi
    Now that sucker is dry as a bone
    Born in a taxi cab
    I'm never comin' home
  • Beware the Nice Ones: In "$29.00" Waits warns a little black girl in a red dress for someone he calls "that vulture in the fleetwood".
  • Calling the Old Man Out: "Wrong Side Of The Road":
    Tell your mama and your papa
    They can kiss your ass
  • Celebrity Cameo: The woman pictured on back of the cover is musician Rickie Lee Jones, with whom Waits had a relationship at the time.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The hooker in "Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis" tells she'll be eligible for parole on Valentine's Day. The man in "Blue Valentines" reminds us that "I die a little more on each St. Valentine's Day".
    • In "Whistlin' Past The Graveyard" Waits says: "What you think is the sunshine is just a twinkle in my eye / that ring around my fingers just the 4th of July'', while in "Sweet Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun" Waits mentions "no that ain't no cherry bomb, 4th of July's all done". In "Wrong Side Of The Road" he also announces: "We'll celebrate the 4th of July".
    • Waits spots "a little blue jay in a red dress, on a sad night" in "Red Shoes By The Drugstore". In "$29.00" Waits warns a little black girl in a red dress for someone he calls "that vulture in the fleetwood".
  • Cover Version: Waits' astonishing cover of "Somewhere" from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story.
  • Cradle of Loneliness: "Whistlin' Past The Graveyard":
    When I get a little bit lonesome
    And a tear falls from my cheek
    There's gonna be an ocean in the middle of the week
  • Cycle of Revenge: "Romeo Is Bleeding":
    And they all jump when they hear the sirens
    But Romeo just laughs and says
    All the racket in the world ain't never gonna
    Save that copper's ass
    He'll never see another summertime for gunnin' down my brother
    And leavin' him like a dog beneath a car without his knife
  • Dare to Be Badass: "Romeo Is Bleeding":
    And they all know they could be just like Romeo
    If they only had the guts
  • Drowning My Sorrows: "Blue Valentines".
    And it takes a lot of whiskey
    To make these nightmares go away
  • Epic Rocking: The 8:15 "$29.00".
  • Face on the Cover: Waits in a contemplating pose.
  • Fugitive Arc: The protagonist in "Blue Valentines" is "always on the run", but can't "get these blood stains from his hands." A Stalker with a Crush keeps sending him blue valentines, though.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: "Romeo Is Bleeding":
    Dáme esa pistola, hombre ("Give me that pistol, man")
    Hijo de la chingada madre ("You son of a fucking whore")
    Vamos a dormir, hombre ("Let's go to sleep, man")
  • Large Ham: Waits' bizarre yelping near the end of "$29:00".
  • Larynx Dissonance: As soon as "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" starts you hear Waits' gravelly baritone singing, "Hey Charley, I'm pregnant."
  • List Song: "Wrong Side Of The Road" is a list of all kinds of naughty things Waits wants to do with the object of his desire, including driving on the wrong side of the road.
  • Meaningful Rename: "Blue Valentines":
    And it feels just like there's
    A warrant out for my arrest
    Got me checkin' in my rearview mirror
    And I'm always on the run
    That's why I change my name
    And I didn't think you'd ever find me here
  • Murder, Arson, and Jaywalking: "Kentucky Avenue":
    Then go down to the hobo jungle and kill some rattle snakes with a trowel
    We'll break all the windows in the ole Anderson place
    And steal a bunch of boysenberries
    And smear em on our face
  • Murder Ballad: "Romeo Is Bleeding".
    But Romeo is bleeding but nobody can tell
    And he sings along with the radio
    With a bullet in his chest
  • No Animals Were Harmed: "Wrong Side Of The Road":
    And hang all them scarecrows from a sycamore tree
  • One-Word Title: "Somewhere".
  • Outlaw Couple: "Wrong Side of the Road".
    Then with my double barrel shotgun
    And a whole box of shells
    We'll celebrate the fourth of July
    We'll do a hundred mph
    Spendin' someone else's dough
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Somewhere".
    There's a place for us
    A time and a place for us
    Hold my hand and we're halfway there
    Hold my hand and I'll take you there
  • Police Are Useless: "$29:00":
    Cops here try so hard, to look just like movie stars
    They couldn't catch a cold, baby don't waste your dime
  • Product Placement: "Kentucky Avenue":
    I got a half pack of Lucky Strikes, man, come along with me
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: "Romeo Is Bleeding", according to Waits, was based on a real incident in L.A., when a Mexican gang leader was shot and died in a movie house.
  • Secret Stab Wound: "Romeo Is Bleeding".
    Romeo is bleeding but nobody can tell
    And he sings along with the radio
    With a bullet in his chest
  • Self-Proclaimed Liar: "Whistlin' Past The Graveyard":
    I never told the truth, so I can never tell a lie
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "Romeo Is Bleeding" Waits mentions James Cagney, whom he mentioned earlier on "Invitation to the Blues" from Small Change (1976). He also mentions that "Little Caesar got caught" in "Red Shoes By The Drugstore", a reference to the gangster classic Little Caesar.
    • The film Romeo is Bleeding (1993) lend its title from the song of the same name on this album.
    • "A Sweet Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun":
    I'd rather die before I wake like Marilyn Monroe
    • "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" namedrops the vocal group Little Anthony and the Imperials.
  • Unreliable Narrator: "Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis". The prostitute tells a lot of good news at the start of the letter. She is pregnant, has a stable relationship with a partner who promises to raise her arriving baby. But in the end it turns out she's in jail, doesn't have a husband and all this casts doubt on all the things she mentioned earlier.
  • Title Track: "Blue Valentines".
    She sends me blue valentines
  • Train Song: "Whistlin' Past The Graveyard".
    Well I come in on a night train
    With an arm full of box cars
  • Wheelchair Woobie: The subject of "Kentucky Ave" is revealed to be one in the last verse.invoked