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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Tom Waits - (Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night

Our Saturday song, still following in the steps of TTRH "Days of the Week" is Tom Waits' (Looking for) the Heart of Saturday Night. We're all grateful that Our Host has better taste than to pick something like Saturday Night's Alright (for Fightin').

I have a Tom Waits story for Dreamtime readers/listeners. My initial college career - such as it was, and it wasn't much - was interrupted by the draft in the early `70s, and consequently I started college several years later than most of my peers. I eventually graduated from the University of Southern Maine in the late `70s; then known as the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham, or sometimes as Pogo U., which may be why the name was changed by the College Fathers.

In any case, although I was less than full of school spirit, I did haphazardly participate in several activities and organizations, including the college paper; a group that put on cult films; and another group that brought music acts to the school. During that time I helped produce USM concerts for such `70s period acts as Loggins and Messina; Phoebe Snow; and Maria Muldaur.

Out of the dozen or so acts that I dealt with, Maria was one of the nicest, a fact that I'd remind her of when I interviewed her for a web site column I was writing earlier this year (the web site and I parted ways, but you can still read the interview here). Maria was still at the height of her Midnight at the Oasis fame in those days, and Tom Waits, who had just recently released his Looking for the Heart of Saturday Night album, was her opening act.

I didn't have all that much conversation with Waits, who I had never heard of at the time, and who seemed a strange, scruffy, boho-type character wearing a cheap Salvation Army suit and with not the best personal hygiene. Getting ready to go on, Waits decided he wanted to bring a beer on-stage. Some security guy stopped him, and I had to intercede when the argument began to get heated. While I had the rent-a-cop distracted, Waits hid several cans of beer in his suit jacket, walked out on stage, sat down at the piano, reached inside his jacket, pulled out a beer, popped the top, put it on the piano, turned to the backstage, and gave the security guard the finger. I spent the rest of Waits' set keeping the security guy from stopping the show.

When I told that story to Maria, thirty-odd years in the future, and mentioned that I remembered Waits had smelled a little, ah, ripe, she began to laugh. "My God," she said. "I haven't thought of that in years. You're right, Tom was pretty pungent. We were saying, 'My God, doesn't this guy ever bathe?'"


Anonymous said...

Love the Dion Dimucci version of Heart of Saturday Night too!

Kerry Dexter said...

there's a tale, too, of how in the early days of Austin City Limits (mid 1970s) Waits picked up an area rug from the floor of the set and played several numbers with it draped over his head...

MusicWoman said...

Tom seems bruce springsteen drunk!!!