|2. Red Shoes By The Drugstore|
|3. Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis|
|4. Romeo Is Bleeding|
|5. Twenty Nine Dollars|
|6. Wrong Side Of The Road|
|7. Whistlin' Past The Graveyard|
|8. Kentucky Avenue|
|9. Sweet Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun|
|10. Blue valentines|
I was shocked as well as anyone when I heard the album open with "Somewhere" from WEST SIDE STORY. But it's the voice that sings it, an early example of gravel-voiced Waits that at first jars the listener, then suddenly sounds natural. Definitely the most original interpretation of this song!
Furthermore, the imagery in Tom's lyrics was getting more & more unique. Titles like "Red Shoes By The Drugstore", "Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis", "Whistlin' By The Graveyard" & "A Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun" with words to match are proof that Tom was on the road to a different musical journey that would both leave longtime listeners behind & welcome even more newer ones. In fact, this is the album that turned me into a Tom Waits fan.
For those still floored by Tom's sudden musical change of heart, there were songs like "Romeo Is Bleeding", "Kentucky Avenue" & "Blue Valentines", which were still musically close to Waits' earlier work, but the lyrics were showing signs of evolution. They should probably listen with caution to "$29.00", for the unorthodox rhythm to that song hints at the amusical approach Waits was working towards at the time.
BLUE VALENTINE is often given a glossing-over in Tom Waits' legacy, calling it a transitional work at best. Sure it may have been, but even that from Tom Waits is guaranteed to be better than most other artists'. You could tell that Tom was starting to evolve, but he still had one foot left in the past, not quite ready to abandon his previous sound just yet. Those lovers of early Tom Waits who've found his later work to be a trying experience, BLUE VALENTINE will be a good introduction of Tom Waits moving from normal to out-there.
"Blue Valentine" is an album that evokes more emotion from me than I can easily state. From the tender opening strings of 'Somewhere' to the solo guitar notes and final almost whimper from Waits himself on 'Blue Valentines,' there is never a dull moment. The combination of Waits' voice (and some playing, primarily on guitar and piano) and the other music on the album creates an atmosphere that is simultaneously brash, angry, agressive, and still innocent, timid, and loving.
The imagery interwoven throughout the lyrics on the album are undoubtedly a huge portion of the reason that I love this music as much as I do. On top of that, however, is the manner in which the songs and their messages connect on some strange level. The colour blue is present everywhere, and serves to unify all these feelings on the album.
No matter what time of day, no matter what my mood, no matter what the weather, I can always find something in this recording that I can relate to. Since my second exposure to Tom Waits (which is the one that got me hooked) I've had trouble choosing one album as my absolute favourite. While others may have highlights that I can particularly appreciate, more often than not I find myself settling down with "Blue Valentine" spinning away in the stereo. A classic, timeless, near perfect recording.