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Down there by the train
I’ve lived in magnolia, a lame island neighborhood in Seattle for 2 years. Thus, I have done the super sketchy late night bike ride through the train tracks a few hundred times. Tom Waits, is frequently on the ipod for this ride, and the late night special cut that comes up a lot on this ride is: “Down there by the train.” The song was made famous by Johny Cash, or like “downtown train,” made famous by Rod Stewart, and also written by Tom Waits, or like “Long way home, “ made famous by Scarlet Johanson but again another song about trains by Tom Waits.
There’s a place I know where the train goes slow
Where the sinner can be washed in the blood of the lamb
There’s a river by the trestle down by sinner’s grove
Down where the willow and the dogwood grow
It is fairly obvious that this is a song about death. More specifically, it compares a hitching yard/train station to the river stix. In a less dramatic way, for me it is just a song about being done, and being tired,needing relief and forgiveness. Cocktails are liquid forgiveness. And as I have remarked before, when listening to Tom Waits on my ride home, I wasn’t sure if a train was behind me.
You can hear the whistle, you can hear the bell
From the halls of heaven to the gates of hell
And there’s room for the forsaken if you’re there on time
You’ll be washed of all your sins and all of your crimes
This is a song about people that didn’t make good decisions, and at the end of what seems to be a thankless shift, on a cold dark night, riding through the tracks, one might want to think that things can be better than what happened. I wanted to create a drink that shows a well thought out cocktail, made of simple honest ingredients, basic but new.
There’s a golden moon that shines up through the mist
And I know that your name can be on that list
There’s no eye for an eye, there’s no tooth for a tooth
I saw Judas Iscariot carrying John Wilkes Booth
He was down there by the train
I love porter, bourbon and Tuaca. I decided to take these 3 leftovers that and use them as ingredients like pub owners did to make the original porter, that is to say, take the leftover sour/stale beer, mix it with something fresh and something mild. It was called the “entire butt” meaning that the finished what was left. It was the drink of the porters, who couldn’t afford better. But my porter is getting Blanton’s. I stir an ounce and half of porter with an ounce and a half of bourbon, a whisper of Tuaca for sweetness and then I smoke the cocktail in a carafe with hickory to remind me of the steam a hear and see on my ride.
1.5 oz porter
1.5 oz bourbon
.25 oz Tuaca
stir and strain over smoke, dump that into a bucket
If you’ve lost all your hope, if you’ve lost all your faith
I know you can be cared for and I know you can be safe
And all the shamefuls and all of the whores
And even the soldier who pierced the side of the Lord
This drink suits the feeling of this sound, it validates leftovers. It works like the day after thanksgiving cranberry sauce sandwiches. It ain’t high brow, or easily understood, or common, just like Waits and this song, but the combination is just as mysterious and beautiful as being confused by a junkyard ballad.
Well, I’ve never asked forgiveness and I’ve never said a prayer
Never given of myself, never truly cared
I’ve left the ones who loved me and I’m still raising Cain
I’ve taken the low road and if you’ve done the same
Meet me down there by the train
I think this is as far as a beer and a shot can go.
but here it what everyone else did, all things awesome:
Mike McSorley : Tommy the Cat, Tom Waits talking crazy on the Primus song from “Sailing the Seas of Cheese.”
From the London Cocktail Guide: Grapefruit Moon, from Tom Waits’ “Closing Time,” a song to fall in love to if you are young enough to do so
From Cocktail Virgin, Slut: A great mocktail inspired by Tom Waits’ life on the darkside, and coming around to be sober.
A Dash of Bitters: Admits procrastinating
AJ Rathbun: Most of Tom Waits’ “Rain Dogs” in a glass, and like an episode of Futurama, you don’t know which part is a quote from elsewhere and which part is script
Devin Hahn: A mule Variations inspired drink with a nail swizzle stick.
Ganymeda: a scotch chronology, a scotch-ology of Tom Waits progression
My life in cocktails: What do you drink on taco tuesday?
Paul Clarke: seems that Paul, like me, has had to host solo cocktail parties based on a bachelor’s fridge, Grapefruit Moon
From the Fogged in Lounge: The grinding of the buzzsaw, what you want that thing to say? well uh, don’t misspell her name, she is “The One That Got Away.” Funny thing is, I missed this one, the other funny bit is it I always tell people, “oh that drink, I just made it up for the one that got away.”
I think my blog gets too much spam, I just found 3 more posts:
Urbane, not Cosmopolitan: Frank’s Wild Years. I got tattooed by a woman named Samantha listening to this record, she pulled a cog off of her bike to trace for it.
Felicia’s Speakeasy: growler stories
thanks everybody, some of these comments ended up in spam, i subscibe to too many erectile disfunction website, if youy post didn’t make it, send me an email
I was 20, in college in the morning, remodeling the no water no heat apartment that I got to stay in for free in the afternoon, and I was a doorman/underage bartender at a jazz club. I would get home at 3am, warm up 2 shots of Jack Daniels in an iron skillet, and sip it while inside a sleeping bag atop a 2 foot high stack of drywall. I had an extension cord coming up from the meat cutting business downstairs that powered a lamp and a boombox that only played the album, “Small Change,” by Tom Waits, every night, for the coldest winter of my life.
Listening to the Closing Time and Small Change by Tom Waits during this young and stupid part of my life made me feel like my decisions were not completely insane.
He Describes his early work as: “a comprehensive study of a number of aspects of this search for the center of Saturday night, which Jack Kerouac relentlessly chased from one end of this country to the other, and I’ve attempted to scoop up a few diamonds of this magic that I see.”
His body of work spans 40 years of songs that take place in bars, like his duet with Bette Midler in “I never talk to strangers,” a song about a drunk trying to make way with a lady out of his league. Waits has songs about drinking like “I got a bad liver, and a broken heart,” which is self explanatory title about having some tough times that you can fix in the bars. He writes about love on late night mass transit in “Downtown train,” the cultural equivalent of cream cheese hotdogs in, “Nighthawks at the diner,” and what it is like to work the closing shift is, “I can’t wait to get off work and see my baby.”
The album, “Closing time,” his first, released when Waits was 23, is a brilliant distillation of everything that drinking culture is, sad and hopeful, pathetic and beautiful, confusing and comforting. Every bartender has a love and a mind to switch over the tunes to Waits the late night closing hours. Most drinkers have a tale or two that can be summed up in the key of c by Tom Waits as well.
Let the bawdy, lovely, peculiar and obvious late night life inspire you to tell a favorite drinking tale while listening to, or being inspired by Tom Waits. Waits 40 years of drinking tunes to choose from.