Monday, July 30, 2007

Soundtrack #4. One From The Heart (Tom Waits)

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.


Rogue Spy 007 said...

I can't really comment on this since I've never heard it. I am a huge fan of Tom Waits. I love all his experimental music. The guy is a genius. I'm sure it's awesome. Plus I remember as a kid my parents had a bunch of Crystal Gayle records. I would love to hear Tom and Crystal together.

Jeremy Richey said...

Tom is the man, no doubt. I gravitate more towards his early records and his stuff in the late seventies but I admire all of his work.
"Blue Valentine" and "NightHawks At The Diner" are my favorites but I know they typically aren't considered among his best...thanks for the comments Keith.

cinebeats said...

I'm more a fan of Waits work after Swordfishtrombones. Rain Dogs is one of my all-time favorite albums and I really love his work after that, including his recent stuff!

I've never heard this soundtrack but thanks so much for posting these clips and writing about it. It's interesting to think about how much work he has done with Coppola. I loved his small roles in Rumble Fish and The Cotten Club.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Kimberly,
His Role in "Rumble Fish" just kills me..."Watch Your Language, Watch The Language" He is so great in that film.
There is a definate split in his work post "SwordFish" and after. I think I prefer the early stuff simply because those were the first records by him that I was exposed to...which isn't to say that I don't like the later records. Waits is fantastic in any period...his newest record has some of his best stuff ever and there are only a handful of artists who came out of the late sixties/early seventies that are still pushing the envelope as much as he is...
thanks for commenting and I am glad you like the clips...the DVD of "One From The Heart" has some really astonishing stuff on it.

scott said...

I think this period of Waits is probably his best, alongside BLUE VALENTINE. I like the Tom of the 90s onward too, but the songs got less autobiographical and more character based in an abstract way. Still enjoyable but not as passionate as this kind jazz styled period. NIGHTHAWKS certainly has a mood going through it too..

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Scott,
"Blue Valentine" is my favorite Waits album so it is nice to hear some love thrown its way...thanks for commenting