fifteen albums, one

This is the first post in a series about the fifteen albums that have a made a big impression on me. See the original post and the list here.

  1. Tom Waits – Closing Time

Back in January when I was going through Jesse Malin’s discography and filling the holes in my collection I found that he had covered a song called “I Hope I Don’t Fall In Love With You”. The title sounded so perfect that I felt almost ashamed that I didn’t already know it. So, instead of immediately listening to the cover, I decided I needed to set things right and start with the original. Closing Time quickly became a go to album when I couldn’t sleep at night. I’d take myself out to the front room, where the street lights stream into the window and listen until the wee hours of the morning. I’d sometimes fall asleep somewhere in the middle. I never considered myself a Tom Waits fan (this theme will be ongoing throughout this fifteen albums thing). I knew his music of course, but I had never heard any of this softer stuff. And because I had never really delved into any of it I never even imagined that he had songs like these. I was in the process of rediscovering everything about music, essentially falling in love with it all over again. Listening to this album in the middle of winter warmed me. Instead of listening while I was actively doing other things I only listened when I was silent and still. It was a series of stories about love, sadness and regret that reminded me of everything I love about music. The album became someone I spent a lot of time with in a dark, quiet, wintry world. Nobody’s up except the moon and me. I found it hugely comforting. I guess it helps that there’s a song called “Midnight Lullaby”.

In listening to the album over and over I realized that it flowed really well, which I suppose is the whole point of an album, or at least it should be. So in the late spring when I decided to start seriously buying vinyl again I made my own little rules for choosing which albums to get. I have a thing for self-imposed rules. I would only buy albums that thrilled me, regardless of whether I had anything else by the same artist. I would only buy albums that I loved. I would only buy albums that were full, well thought out collections of songs that told a story and that went well together. It sounds simple, but I have ways of making things complicated, and I’m also super picky and precise. The biggest rule about the vinyl, however, was that since I didn’t yet have a turntable I would absolutely not buy anything new until I found a copy of Closing Time. Nowadays there’s always a way to find things online, but I’m a very big believer in the great search. One of the biggest pleasures in life is digging through record bins looking for something you didn’t even know you wanted until you saw it. I couldn’t buy this online. I needed to find it naturally. It was waiting for me somewhere.

I was about to go to New York City earlier this summer and I was sure I’d find Closing Time there, but on a quick trip to a local store just a few days before leaving I found a brand new copy right here in Montreal. I vacillated for a while about whether or not to get it. I really had no idea how hard it would be to find. I had no idea if the price was fair. I set this goal based 100% on my feelings about the album and was otherwise uninformed about what kind of a search I was actually on. The Mr. reminded me that I had been talking about how much I loved the album for months and that since it was now in my hands, it was probably time for me to take it home. So I did. It turns out it was nowhere to be found in NYC, or any place I’ve been since then, so I made the right decision.

Also, I’m not too embarassed to say that as I write this the album is still in the cellophane. My vinyl listening has been a social activity since I got the turntable and I’m waiting for some dark, late night, alone time to break this one out. Maybe with a bottle of wine. It’ll happen soon. Winter’s not far away.

Learn more and maybe buy your own copy here, or support your local record store.