3.2.11

Tom Waits and Laura Barton



This is a beautiful piece by Laura Barton on Waits's song, Johnsburg, Illinois.
He once described [his wife, Kathleen] Brennan like so: "A remarkable collaborator, and she's a shiksa goddess and a trapeze artist, all of that. She can fix the truck. Expert on the African violet and all that. She's outta this world. I don't know what to say. I'm a lucky man. She has a remarkable imagination. And that's the nation where I live. She's bold, inventive and fearless. That's who you wanna go in the woods with, right? Somebody who finishes your sentences for you."
[...] He lets the song wind her around him – warmly, tenderly, with the delicate touch of a man who can't quite believe his luck. This isn't a giddy new love, rather there is a sense of relief, a calm to its simplicity; it has the same sigh of quiet delight as the weary wanderer finally arriving at his destination.[…] We overcomplicate love. We make it perform tricks and climb mountains, we dress it up and put it on parade. Our songs portray that complication: they are frills and fusses and curlicues. But Johnsburg, Illinois tells a simpler truth: when you love someone, they become the place where you belong.

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