Closing Time, 1973

Closing Time
It starts with a sunrise, it ends with "one star shining," and in between Closing Time contains an honest year's worth (1973, to be exact) of sweet, melodic, vintage Tom Waits--minus some of the vocal growl and thematic grit of his later stuff (but you can see it coming). Waltzes, lullabies, blues, jazz, you name it. Driving songs and drinking songs, even an honest to gosh country tune: "Rosie." There are torchers ("Lonely"), scorchers ("Ice Cream Man"), and back-porch senior citizen love songs ("Martha"): "Those were the days of roses/Poetry and prose, and/Martha, all I had was you and all you had was me." Other standouts are "I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love with You" (guess what--he does!) and "Grapefruit Moon," in which Waits croons: "Every time I hear that melody, something breaks inside." Hang on to your hearts and hats, folks. -Dan Leone