Frank's Wild Years

Frank settled down out in the Valley
He hung his wild years on a nail that he drove
through his wife’s forehead
He sold used office furniture out there on San Fernando Road
and assumed a 30,000 dollar loan at fifteen and a quarter percent
Put a down payment on a little two bedroom place
His wife was a spent piece of used jet trash
Made good Bloody Marys, kept her mouth shut most of the time
Had a little chihuahua named Carlos
that had some kind of skin disease and was totally blind
They had a thoroughly modern kitchen
Self-cleaning oven, the whole bit
Frank drove a little sedan
They were so happy

One night Frank was on his way home from work
Stopped at the liquor store, picked up a couple of Mickey’s Big Mouths
Drank ‘em in the car on the way to the Shell station
He got a gallon of gas in a can, drove home
Doused everything in the house, torched it
Parked across the street, laughing, watching it burn
All Halloween orange and chimney red
Then Frank put on a Top Forty station
Got on the Hollywood Freeway and headed north
Never could stand that dog

Words and music by Tom Waits
©1983 Jalma Music (ASCAP)

("For Frankie Z.")

Here’s a quote from the ‘Swordfishtrombones’ promo interview:

"Charles Bukowski had a story that essentially was saying that it’s the little things that drive men mad. It’s not the big things. It’s not World War II. It’s the broken shoe lace when there is no time left that sends men completely out of their minds. So this is kind of in that spirit. Little of a Ken Nordine flavor.
Ronnie Barron, alias Reverend Eather from New Orleans, Lousiana, on Hammond organ, and Larry Taylor, originally with Canned Heat, on dog house. I think there is a little bit of Frank in everybody."

And one from the NME interview, explaining how the song turned into a musical:

"The song was like a fortune cookie. After I wrote it I thought, what happened to this guy? Everybody knows guys like that, people you haven’t seen in a long time, what happens to these people? ‘What happened to John Chrisswicky? Oh Jesus, John’s second wife left him and he went to work in a slaughterhouse for a while. Then he was in a rendering unit, of course his dad was always in the wine business. That didn’t interest John, I hear he ended up as a mercenary soldier.
People go through these permutations in different stages of their life, perceived by someone else it can look strange. I imagined Frank along those lines. Y’see, my folks split up when I was kid and ... hey, look, let me give you $100 and I’ll lie down on the couch over there, you take notes and see if we can’t get to the bottom of this."

Produced by Tom Waits
Recorded by Tim Boyle
Additional engineering by Peggy McCreary and
Richard McKernon
Recorded at Sunset Sound, Hollywood, August 1982
Mixed by Biff Dawes at Sunset Sound Factory

Tom Waits: Voice
Ronnie Barron: Hammond organ
Larry Taylor: Acoustic bass

Time: 1.51

Track 9 on the album ‘Swordfishtrombones’ 1983
Side B of the ‘In the Neighborhood’ 7" single 1983
Track 10 on the compilation ‘Beautiful Maladies’ 1998

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