Bad Liver And A Broken Heart

Well, I got a bad liver and a broken heart
Yeah, I drunk me a river since you tore me apart
And I don't have a drinking problem 'cept when I can't get a drink
And I wish you'd known her, we were quite a pair
She was sharp as a razor and soft as a prayer

So welcome to the continuing saga
She was my better half, and I was just a dog
And so here am I slumped
I've been chipped and I've been chumped on my stool
So buy this fool some spirits and libations(2)
It's these railroad station bars
And all these conductors and the porters
And I'm all out of quarters

And this epitaph is the aftermath
Yeah, I choose my path, hey come on, Kath
He's a lawyer, he ain't the one for ya
No, the moon ain't romantic, it's intimidating as hell
And some guy's trying to sell me a watch
And so I'll meet you at the bottom of a bottle of bargain Scotch(3)
I got me a bottle and a dream, it's so maudlin(4) it seems

You can name your poison(5)
Go on ahead and make some noise I ain't sentimental
This ain't a purchase, it's a rental, and it's purgatory
And hey, what's your story, well I don't even care
Cause I got my own double-cross to bear(6)

And I'll see your Red Label, and I'll raise(7) you one more
And you can pour me a cab, I just can't drink no more
cause it don't douse the flames
that are started by dames, It ain't like asbestos
It don't do nothing but rest us assured
And substantiate the rumors that you've heard

Written by: Tom Waits
Published by: Fifth Floor Music (ASCAP), © 1976
Official release: Small Change, Elektra/ Asylum Records, 1976

Known covers:

Waits performing "Bad Liver And A Broken Heart". With: Frank Vicari (tenor saxophone), Fitz Jenkins (upright bass), Chip White (drums). Taken from Rockpalast, WDR television concert documentary. WDR Studio's/ Studio-L. Cologne/ Germany (aired April 18, 1977.  


(1) Tom Waits (1976): "I put a lot into 'Bad Liver and a Broken Heart'. I tried to resolve a few things as far as this cocktail- lounge, maudlin, crying-in-your-beer image that I have. There ain't nothin' funny about a drunk. You know, I was really starting to believe that there was something amusing and wonderfully American about a drunk. I ended up telling myself to cut that shit out. On top of everything else, talking about boozing substantiates the rumours that people hear about you, and people hear that I'm a drunk. So I directed that song as much to the people that listen to me and think they know me as much as I directed it to myself." (Source: "Smelling like a brewery, lookin' like a tramp". Rolling Stone: David McGee. 1976) 

(2) Libation n.: 1. The pouring of a liquid offering as a religious ritual; the liquid so poured. 2. A beverage, especially an intoxicating beverage, informal (Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Houghton Mifflin - Third Edition)

(3) And so I'll meet you at the bottom of a bottle of bargain Scotch:
- Tom Waits
(1978): "I don't drink when I'm working. John, my road manager, does. He buys bargain stuff, like Frank's Scotch, or Bensen & Hedges brewed in Rochester. He was my inspiration for my line, "I'll meet you at the bottom of a bottle of bargain Scotch." (Source: "Sleazy Rider - A man who works at being a derelict". RELIX magazine by Clark Peterson. May - June, 1978. Vol. 5 No. 2) 

(4) Maudlin: Stupidly sentimental. Maudlin drunk is the drunkenness which is sentimental and inclined to tears. Maudlin slip-slop is sentimental chitchat. The word is derived from Mary Magdalen, who is drawn by ancient painters with a lackadaisical face, and eyes swollen with weeping. (Source: "The First Hypertext Edition of The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable", E. Cobham Brewer. © 1997-99 Ltd) 

(5) Poison: n. [19C+] an ironic term for drink in general; thus [1910+] (Aus.) poison-shop, a public house (name your poison). (Source: "Cassell's Dictionary Of Slang". Jonathon Green. Cassel & Co., 1998. ISBN: 0-304-35167-9) 

(6) Cause I got my own double-cross to bear: "Double-cross to bear" is a play on two common expressions - "double cross" (a deliberate betrayal; violation of a promise or obligation) and "cross to bear" (a heavy burden: referring to the account in the Bible where Jesus was made to carry his own cross to the hill where he was crucified). (Source: Email by Leroy Larson to Tom Waits Library. October, 2005)

(7) Raise v.: After someone has opened betting in a round, to increase the amount of the bet is to raise. For example, if the betting limit is $5 and player A bets $5, player B can fold, call the $5, or raise it to $10 (Source: Dan's poker dictionary, Dan Kimberg)