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Music / Heartattack and Vine

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The morning light has washed your face, and everything is turning blue now.

Heartattack and Vine is the seventh studio album by American musician Tom Waits, released in 1980 through Asylum Records. It's best remembered for the fan favorites "Jersey Girl", "Ruby's Arms" and the title track. At the time it was his best-selling album up to that point.

It would be his final album for the label Asylum and symbolically end the first period of his career, where his music mostly evoked a "drunk pianist in a jazzy nightclub atmosphere". After this album Waits moved to another label, while his music changed into a style more akin to Avant-Garde Music / Alternative Rock with the New Sound Album Swordfishtrombones (1983).


Side One
  1. "Heartattack and Vine" (4:50)
  2. "In Shades" (4:25)
  3. "Saving All My Love for You" (3:41)
  4. "Downtown" (4:45)
  5. "Jersey Girl" (5:11)

Side Two

  1. "Til the Money Runs Out" (4:25)
  2. "On the Nickel" (6:19)
  3. "Mr. Siegal" (5:14)
  4. "Ruby's Arms" (5:34)

Ruby's Tropes

  • Break Up Song: "Saving All My Love For You"
    I'd come home, but I'm afraid that you won't take me back, but I'd trade off everything just to have you near.
  • Face on the Cover: Waits is seen on the album cover as a newspaper picture.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: "On The Nickel" , a pseudo lullaby about little boys who don't do what they should and grow up to be skid row homeless.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In hindsight, the opening line of "Saving All My Love For You" serves as a shockingly self-aware analysis of where the album falls in his discography, coming between his "bluesy barfly" first period and carnival-barker sound of the second period.
    It's too early for the circus; it's too late for the bars...
  • Morality Ballad: "On the Nickel" is actually a parody of such. Waits wrote it from the point of view of a father telling his son that he'll end up like the men on Skid Row if he doesn't do as he's told.
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: "Ruby's Arms".
    As I say goodbye to Ruby's arms, you'll find another soldier, and I swear to God to Christmas, there'll be someone else to hold you
  • One-Word Title: "Downtown".
  • Packaged as Other Medium: The album cover is designed in the style of a newspaper cover. The headlines of the articles are the names of the songs.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Not too surprisingly, "Til the Money Runs Out"
    Can't you hear the thunder someone stole my watch
    I sold a quart of blood and bought a half a pint of scotch.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Waits wrote "Jersey Girl" for his wife and frequent collaborator Kathleen Brennan.
  • Scatting: "Jersey Girl" has Waits scatting "sha la la la", which surprised even him
    ''I never thought I would catchy myself saying "sha la la la" in a song.
  • Stock Sound Effects: Church bells are heard during "Saving All My Love For You".
  • Stop and Go: "Til the Money Runs Out" has an instrumental intro, followed by a sudden break and a few seconds of silence. Then Waits and the instruments come in.
  • Title Track: "Heartattack And Vine"
    You'll probably see someone you know on heartattack and vine