Sunday, October 27, 2013

Song #400 of 9999 - Hang on St. Christopher by Tom Waits

Song #400 of 9999 

Title: Hang on St. Christopher
Artist: Tom Waits
Year: 1987 
Album: Franks Wild Years

The last time we saw Frank (on Tom Waits's seminal work Swordfishtrombones), he had had an epiphany of sorts and worked it out in the worst way possible, lighting his San Fernando Valley home on fire, watching it burn for a bit and then heading north on the Hollywood Freeway. Whether "Hang on St. Christopher" picks up where this scene leaves off is anyone's guess but here we have an unnamed driver making his way north toward Reno on a route that seems to imply some urgency but also a little bit of drunken confusion (he was drinking right before he set the fire). I've made a Google Map for you:

As you can see, he starts out in the San Fernando Valley (A), jumps on the Hollywood Freeway but for reasons that confound heads up Mt. Baldy (B)! ("kick me up Mt. Baldy") Well, that's a dead end so he's forced to turn around, return to the Valley and then head toward the jackpot (C) before speeding on the Grapevine (D). ("tear a hole in the jack pot/drive a stake through his heart/do a 100 on the grapevine/do a jump on the start")

You know, now that I think of it, Frank worked in the San Fernando Valley but it's possible he commuted from Long Beach—I mean, it's a hike but we're probably talking about the 1950s or 60s before the I-5 was complete and traffic wasn't so bad. And he does have the patron saint of travel hanging in his passenger seat so maybe...

Anyway, Frank's his car breaks down ("do a jump on the start") or maybe he is just decides to ditch it, but he wisely finds a truck driver to take him the rest of the way but then gives him alcohol as well! ("a bottle for the jockey") And is that the police riding that "750 Norton bustin' down january's door"? I'm not sure, but the next thing you know Frank seems to be getting on a train ("put my baby on the flat car/gotta burn down the caboose"). And where did that dog come from? Didn't he just kill a dog back at the house? It's all very confusing...

Back tomorrow in 1997.

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