“And the things you can’t remember
Tell the things you can’t forget that
History puts a saint in every dream.”
Of course there is no such thing as the “Best album ever”. We all have our unique musical tastes. One person might enjoy Schoenberg’s Piano Sonatas, whereas another treasures the collected works of Vanilla Ice.
Yet for me there is one album that towers above all others, on the simple scale of how much I enjoy it. And that is Tom Waits’ 1985 masterpiece “Rain Dogs”.
“And when she’s on a roll she pulls a razor
From her boot and a thousand
Pigeons fall around her feet.”
Oh, this album is definitely not for everyone. I could see how some people might find it downright unlistenable, hearing only a rough beer hall emulation of early Kurt Weill. But for me nearly every one of those nineteen songs is a master class, a piece of pure musical bliss that leads me through the rain soaked streets of a mythic down and out New Orleans re-invented as an epic bar crawl.
The album is, in a way, an inspired musical enactment of Henry Miller at his best, with maybe a dash of William Burroughs thrown in for good measure. Its power is so great that Jim Jarmusch has spent the last thirty or so years of his professional life essentially riffing on it.
“So put a candle in the window
And a kiss upon his lips
Till the dish outside the window fills with rain
Just like a stranger with the weeds in your heart
And pay the fiddler off till i come back again.”