And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
In the spring,
Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough
Where I cling. - Oliver Wendell Holmes
I fight off the snow
I fight off the hail
Nothing makes me go
I’m like some vestigial tail - Tom Waits
Today's post is the last for now in this micro-mini-series featuring the elder statesmen of songwriting. Tom Waits hasn't hit his 70's yet, but we
won't hold that against him. His voice, both literal and metaphorical would be sorely missed in our musical landscape had he decided on a career in, say, pharmaceuticals instead of songwriting. He, too, is addressing mortality in his songs.
The image of "the last leaf on the tree" is not a new one. The Oliver Wendell Holmes poem quoted above showed up in the Yale Book of American Verse in 1912. Writers are always re-working older archetypal/poetic images. I think its actually part of the job description.
I will mention also that anyone who can use the word 'vestigial' in a song gets bonus points. And by the way, the 2nd old-dude voice on this recording is Kieth Richards...
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