When I think of my favorite stuff by Tom Waits, I always look back to the time when the writing and arranging of his songs were more playful, avant pop exercises, colored by a range of intense and deep emotional swatches, yet always with humor. My favorite stretch in his catalog of work is from Swordfishtrombones to Franks Wild Years (Marc Ribot?). Songs were always off-kilter, tenuous, unpredictable...far-away organs played against a punchy latin rhumba beat...oh, here comes the circus, jolted by a bended-note/feedback guitar part. Wha?
I heard a lot more characters in his voice, too. The sideshow barker, the Ironweed hobo, the cocky but sensitive playboy, or the frustrated, suburbia-warped freespirit looking to make a break.
This track off Franks Wild Years feels like an old, worn out, spaghetti western-inspired guitar shuffle. Its whispered from the lips of a grizzled shopkeeper in a soon-to-be ghosttown, telling his concerned companion the need to reach for where your dreams dwell: "out where your enemies lie." There's little consolation against what most likely will be an exercise in futility, but necessary nonetheless, to carve out some sort of happiness. Get used to it.