Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs: “Dead and Lovely” — Tom Waits (2004)

She was a middle class girl
She was in over her head
She thought she could
Stand up in the deep end

He had a bullet proof smile
He had money to burn
She thought she had the moon
In her pocket

But now she’s dead
She’s so dead
Forever dead and lovely now…

Oh you thought everything was gonna be happy silly spooky funtime, did you? Welcome to Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs. This won’t end well.

I could seriously do an entire series focusing on dark, creepy, atmospheric Tom Waits songs, and not only would it be cool as hell for me and entertaining as hell for you, I could stop showcasing those endless “classic” folk songs rooted in our misogynist-powered limbic system, in which impotent men surrender to their primal urges to murder their wives, daughters, and mothers amid zeitgeisty-approved fears of emasculation.

I’m kind of proud of that last sentence. Not the violence behind it, of course, but “zeitgeisty”…

Anyway, Tom Waits. Just brilliant. And certainly not the first time featured here on these parts: we’ve covered such other creeptaculars as What’s He Building and Little Drop of Poisonand we’ll continue down that road with the equally haunting Dead and Lovely, a track from his 2004 album “Real Gone”, and a succinct examination of the sublimation and destruction of the soul. You know, for fun, fame… profit!

The subject matter is your prototypical “live hard, die young, leave a good looking corpse” material, according to Waits. Typical suburban girl meets flashy guy with a “bulletproof smile”, she disappears with him, the man who “never gave” but “always got”. She became jewelry. An accessory. An entire history rewritten and reshaped into a null image.

Her entire identity entirely stripped, so much so that by the time she dies — murdered, shoved off a boat and drowned like Carol Wayne maybe? — she barely has any semblance of soul left. Her roots were “sweet” but “shallow”. Everything real and true about her, lost beneath the waves, slowly drifting apart piece by piece.

Dead and Lovely demonstrates, and chillingly so, how you don’t have to wait to die for your soul to be lost.

Everything has its price
Everything has its place
What’s more romantic
then dying in the moonlight?

Now they’re all watching the sea
What’s lost can never be broken
Her roots were sweet
but they were so shallow

And now she’s dead
Forever dead
Forever dead and lovely now…

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