Even though he scored a much deserved Oscar nomination for the film's music, Tom Waits ONE FROM THE HEART is often overlooked not just by his own fans but also film lovers in general.
ONE FROM THE HEART represents Waits at a real turning point in his career. It is the last album he recorded before his audacious SWORDFISHTROMBONES record in 1983, an album that would set the experimental tone for the rest of his career. HEART ATTACK AND VINE(1980) had proceeded ONE FROM THE HEART and it had already shown Waits getting away from his more piano based music of the seventies, so ONE FROM THE HEART closes a real important chapter in Waits career.
Waits' singer partner on ONE FROM THE HEART was a surprising choice. Crystal Gayle was a popular country singer in the seventies, known for her smooth voice and incredibly long hair. Waits had originally wanted the sassy Bette Midler for his partner as the two had already done a memorable duet on his fantastic FOREIGN AFFAIRS album in 1978. Midler wasn't available in time for Coppola's film so Waits chose the softer, but no less accomplished, Gayle to accompany him.
Waits' soundtrack for Coppola's film works incredibly well as not only a musical companion to the film but also as a solid lp on its own. ONE FROM THE HEART might not be in the same class as SMALL CHANGE (1976) or BLUE VALENTINE (1979) as my favorite early Waits record but songs like BROKEN BICYCLES, LITTLE BOY BLUE, and especially THIS ONES FROM THE HEART belong in any music lovers home. Equally fascinating are the tracks that bookend the album, the OPENING MONTAGE and the quite astonishing PRESENTS that wraps things up.
Produced by Bones Howe and featuring some of the most straight jazz oriented material of Waits career, ONE FROM THE HEART might be an ideal introduction to Waits for someone who isn't perhaps prepared for the manic intensity of SMALL CHANGE or the more abrasive sounding BONE MACHINE. ONE FROM THE HEART might well be described as the most easy listening album of Tom Waits career, but that doesn't make it any less valuable.
Tom Waits of course would soon become well known as an actor as well and he has a memorable cameo in ONE FROM THE HEART. His first role, for Sylvester Stallone's PARADISE ALLEY (1978), would show Waits as being as charismatic on the screen as his unmistakable voice was on vinyl. Coppola would cast him in several more films of his including RUMBLE FISH and THE OUTSIDERS (both 1983) and THE COTTON CLUB (1984). He would unfortunately never score another one of Coppola's films again though.
ONE FROM THE HEART is available in a beautifully remastered gatefold edition cd with bonus tracks. Unfortunately Nastassja's infectious take of LITTLE BOY BLUE remains unreleased and the film is the only way to hear it.
Waits would lose the Oscar for ONE FROM THE HEART but it remains one of his most important albums if just for the door it closed for him. He was getting ready to, along with his new bride Kathleen Brennan, make a series of bold recordings that would cement his status as one of the most important musical figures on the planet. ONE FROM THE HEART is well worth grabbing for soundtrack fans and popular music lovers in general.