San Diego Serenade (Godfather Records GR 348)
San Diego Folk Festival, San Diego, CA, April 19th, 1974
01. Better Off Without A Wife 02. The Heart Of Saturday Night 03. On a Foggy Night 04. Shiver Me Timbers 05. Fumblin’ With The Blues 06. Semi Suite 07. San Diego Serenade 08. Glad That You’re Gone 09 Ice Cream Man 10. Depot Depot 11. The Ghost Of Saturday Night. Additional Tracks: The Main Point, Bryn Mawr, PA, January 4th, 1976 12. Intro By Martin Mull 13. Warm Beer & Cold Women 14. Eggs & Sausage 15. Emotional Weather Report 16. Better Off Without A Wife
The Tom Waits release on Godfatherecords label entitled, San Diego Serenade is a performance that will soon become the shining gem of your live collection. The crystal-clear clarity of this recording is equally as perfect as Tom’s set at the San Diego Folk Festival on April 19th of 1974 in San Diego, CA.
Having just released “The Heart Of Saturday Night” that same year, this live recording marks the dividing line between his melodic singing style and the raspy, more unconditional style he embarked on in years to come. This performance in San Diego, coupled with additional tracks recorded at The Main Point in Bryn Mawr, PA on January 4th, 1976, clearly shows Tom’s transition from sweet melodies back in ‘74 to a more harsh, smoke-filled arrangement easily sounding like a swaggering lounge act in New Orleans.
One of the most incredible aspects of this release is the bar stool banter between songs. Tom’s honesty and humor comes through unplanned and genuine. He has the ability to drive the listener through all of the major emotions…..much like a long conversation while cruising on a Saturday night with the top down. He will have the audience laughing out loud at one point and then leave the audience with deep rooted philosophies that sound like they came from a seasoned auto mechanic at the end of a busy day.
The track that really stands out early on is, “The Heart Of Saturday Night”……..It sounds like Tom was filled a six pack of courage will riding down a multi-colored street at night looking for the ghost of Jack Kerouac. By the time we get to “Shiver Me Timbers”, the listener quite possibly has been transported to a different time all together. The mood Tom sets with this next gem could easily be the soundscape to a movie depicting the troubled young man seeking a ship to sail on along the coast of California in the early 1900’s.
The next stand-out track is “San Diego Serenade” . Tom’s masterful piano arrangement on this tune is nearly as good as the lyrics he tosses out to his audience. “Glad That You’re Gone” comes up next and once Tom picks up his guitar again, the listener is immediately submerged into a story about Tom’s father and his women trouble. the sweet irony in Tom’s lyrics is a testimonial to his father and how sometimes in life we want what we really can’t stand. Visions of Willie Nelson covering this song one day kicks in by the time the off-key croon finishes up this acoustic number.
The final track at the San Diego show is a spoken word piece accompanied by lounge lizard piano and pictures of a greasy diner at 4:30 in the morning while working on my the fourth cup of coffee with a pen in one hand and a napkin filled with documented similarities between people & breakfast occupy my mind. It is a perfect way to end a set of music that takes the listener to place you may or may not want to go, but with Tom luring you in with his wonderfully melodic piano playing or his begging hobo ‘esque guitar strumming, you feel that you have experienced something special after listening to this diamond in the rough.
The packaging is flawless and offers the viewer a masterful trifold with rare phots of Tom. The overall design work put into the CD case creates the feel of vintage photos from the early stages of Tom Waits’ career. (3) words….A Must Have!!If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)