Foreign Affair

When travelling abroad in the continental style,
it’s my belief one must attempt to be discreet,
and subsequently bear in mind, your transient position
allows you a perspective that’s unique.

And though you’ll find your itinerary a blessing and a curse,
your wanderlust won’t let you settle down.
And you’ll wonder how you ever fathomed that you’d be content
to stay within the city limits of a small midwestern town.

Most vagabonds I knowed don’t ever want to find the culprit
that remains the object of their long relentless quest.
The obsession’s in the chasing and not the apprehending.
The pursuit, you see, and never the arrest.

Without fear of contradiction, 'Bon voyage' is always hollered,
in conjunction with a handkerchief, from shore,
by a girl who drives a Rambler, and furthermore
is overly concerned that she won’t see him anymore.

Planes and trains and boats and buses
characteristically evoke a common attitude of blue,
unless you have a suitcase, and a ticket, and a passport,
and the cargo that they’re carrying is you.

A foreign affair, juxtaposed with a stateside
and domestically approved romantic fancy,
is mysteriously attractive due to circumstances, knowing
it will only be parlayed into a memory

Words and music by Tom Waits
©1977 Fifth Floor Music, Inc.

Produced and engineered by Bones Howe
2nd engineer: Geoff Howe
Recorded July or August 1977 at Filmways / Heider Recording, Hollywood

Tom Waits: Vocals and piano
Orchestra arranged and conducted by Bob Alcivar
Orchestra managers: Edgar Lustgarten and Jim Robak

Time: 3.46

Track 9 on the album ‘Foreign Affairs’ 1977
Track 11 on the vinyl compilation ‘Asylum Years’ 1984