I'm not usually one to blog and just say, "download this, now!" but this is a major exception. Plus, it's not by some young, emerging artist that has yet to release a full album. So there will be no tremendous praise quickly followed by a large backlash in the next few months.
This week's edition of Popdose's Basement Songs features one of my favorite ballads by Tom Waits: "Kentucky Avenue." Scott's writeup on the song is pretty strong and very well-said. All I will add is that this song really touches me whenever I hear it. Even though none of the childhood stories Waits describes in the lyrics were nothing like what I experienced, I think about random scenes from my youth. The final line about "We'll slide all the way down the drain to New Orleans in the fall" especially resonates with me, being born in New Orleans and living there until I was eight years old.
Like Waits's other ballads, like "Tom Traubert's Blues" and "Ruby's Arms," there's something about how his ragged voice, the lonesome piano, and the swirling strings complement each other so well. It's the same combination that blew me away back in 2005 when I heard "Tom Traubert's Blues" for the first time. I never knew of this side to Tom Waits since I thought he just made loud, atonal blues. Hearing "Kentucky Avenue" for the first time a while later helped solidified my fandom of his stuff.