Frank's Wild Years: Songs

Songs performed in the play (in order of performance)

ACT 1, SCENE 1/1:

1. Frank's theme: Opening instrumental, played by musicians as the snow falls on them.

2. Innocent When You Dream: theme-song sung by Frank (Tom Waits).
Tom Waits: "Hmmm. It's like a kids' song, you know? I'm starting to find that songs find their own logic. And when we listen to them, we don't push them in a logical fashion. We let them go in some other place. They have their own kind of Joseph Cornell collection of images. So sometimes a lyric comes to me, I try to deliberately find things that don't particularly have a meaning at the moment. Then I write 'em down, then I think about 'em. Then I understand 'em."(1)

3. Frank's Wild Years: (Swordfishtrombones) spoken by Frank (Tom Waits). Continues after song: "I took the Manchester Blvd turnoff as usual..."
Tom Waits: "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 their minds. So this is kind of in that spirit... I think there is a little bit of Frank in everybody."(2)
BH: Did his wife die in the fire?
Tom Waits: "No, I didn't want to give the impression that she went up in the smoke.
She was at the beauty parlour.
BH: But the dog.
Tom Waits: "The dog, yeah, the dog may have..."(3)

4. Just The Way We Are: (unreleased early version, later featured in Woyzeck, 1999) sung by entire cast after Dag has read letter from Frank bragging about his fantasy life.

"That's just the way we are
Well never try to change us now
It's just the way we are
It's just the way we are boys
It's just the way we are
Don't ever try to bring us down
Cause it's just the way we are."

5. Yesterday Is Here: sung by Frank (Tom Waits) at the piano, with full band.

"Don't you know that I'm going to New York City babe
I'll be leaving on a train (cause it's cheaper)..."

Tom Waits: "The title was given to me by Fred Gwynne. He had the title, and didn't know what to do with it. He said "it's yours; see what you can make of it."
RR: Umm, was he speaking to you through the TV set?  

Tom Waits: No. in a dream. No, on "Cotton Club." We had a lot of time to stand around in our tuxedos. Kicked the title around for a long time. Always liked the title."(1)

6. Blow Wind, Blow: sung by Frank (Tom Waits) after reminiscing about Rainville. Full band version.
RR: It sort of continues the 'get out of town' theme?
Tom Waits: "Yes. Those three songs 
[Hang On St. Christopher, Straight To The Top, Blow Wind Blow] are a guy raring up for his departure."(1)

7. Hang On St. Christopher: sung by Frank (Tom Waits) after telling about leaving town. Full band version.

Frank: ... that place way over the hill... the place where all the broken
watches are. Somebody winds us up when we're born, then we're all just a small
piece broke off of the Big Time. When we stop ticking we go back up to the Big
Clock, wait for a chance to come back down and swing again.

Dag: Now what in the hell is that supposed to mean? 
Frank: It means I left town, Dag. I got in my car and I drove out of this little
town. I stopped at Svatcos and I said: "Larry, you fill it with Supreme. Check
the tires, Larry, I'm going places." I got on that road, I drove past the
slaughterhouse, I ran that light at Larkin Road and Sutter's Mill for the last
time and I got on that road and it was cool and clean, a silver blue runner down

a long black hall, the weathervanes disappearing in the rear view mirror. I 
leaned on that horn, passing everything in sight...

8. Temptation: sung by Tony with Las Vegas showgirls on stage.

Tony: "You do yourself a favour, Frank. Rainville is just a wide spot in the
road, Frank. You make a wish, you keep on driving. Join the Night Brigade, Frank."

9. Please Wake Me Up: (alternate full band version) sung after Frank's dream about winning in the Las Vegas casino. Sung in a semi French/ German accent by Yvette and Frank.

Frank: "The first time I saw her she was like Venus..., as in De Milo. It looked like she only had one arm but it turned out to just be the lighting in the club. Silk, satin, tafetta, chiffon, the whole nine yards. I knew she was different and I knew she was mine...."

Yvette: "He puts his chips on my shoulder
Running in carnival time
He bought all the things that I told him
They made made my eyes, oh sparkle and shine
Together we'll ring in the new year
Wait, I know that he will be my king
And if I fall asleep in your arms
Please wake me up in my dreams."

Frank: "Her outfit was all made of satin
Like nothing that I've ever seen
She said she grew up in Manhattan
And she looked like she walked out of my dreams
Right next to the pawnshop's a chapel
I'll show you just what I mean
And if I fall asleep in your arms
Please wake me up in my dreams."

10. Straight To The Top: Full band version sung by Frank (Tom Waits) dreaming about Las Vegas.

Announcer: "And now ladies and gentlemen, Caesar's Palace is proud to present the
last show in an unprecedented string of sold out shows. Into everyone's life a
little wonder must fall. And so let's give a warm Vegas welcome to the one and
only... the wild, the wonderful, the lordly Frank O'Brien!"

Continues with Vegas style monologue at the piano:
Frank: "Aaah, you know, I was standing backstage just thinking about this business we all call show. And you know you probably think I've been up here all my life: "Frank's been on top as long as I can remember. I guess he was born there." Hold it, pal, slow down! I want to go back. I'd like to go back to a little place called Rainville. Hardly ever does though... rain, that is. Yeah, it's a little town. Don't go looking on a map for Rainville, not unless you're looking on the map written right across my heart. There's a big star next to it, cause it's the capital of everything that I am. It's a little town but it's got a big heart. There's a place called Dagster's Bar and four beautiful people that convinced me that the world was ready for my talent. And I think we owe them something. You know, something called diamonds, something called emeralds, something called rubies.
And there's something called friends - yeah..."

Tom Waits: "A little pagan. Not so Vegas --- more pagan. Like a guy who is obviously not going straight to the top, but the fact that he feels as though he is makes you almost believe that he might be; that somebody like that is going to burn a hole in something - but certainly not the business. Probably himself."(1)

11. I'll Take New York: full band version sung by Frank (Tom Waits) in Vegas style at the piano.

Frank: "... but I'm going someplace that way, about 3000 miles. It's big, it's red, it fell off a tree. They call it the Apple. Watch out, David Merrick, I'm doing a Broadway show. I'd love to take you all with me but I can't afford the air fare. Ha ha! I'd love to wrap you up and put you in my pocket. But I got room for four more, kids, you're going with me to the Big Apple, you're going with me to New York City. Ha, ha! I know what you're thinking: "New York, Frank. High crime, high crime. Be careful, Frank. Be careful." Hey, I can take care of myself. I'm a kidder. Uh, it's expensive in New York... Cause it's a big town, Manhattan is. It's New York, New York, it's a big town, be a big man, get happy. You're gonna wanna... tip the newsboy..."

Song ends with Frank in a coughing fit.

Tom Waits: "Guy standing in Times Square with tuberculosis and no money; his last post card to New York. It's deranged. I wanted it to be Frank's nightmare experience of New York."(1)
Tom Waits: "I'll Take New York" was a nightmare Jerry Lewis going down on the Titanic.(4)

ACT 2, SCENE 1/1:

12. Please Wake Me Up: (alternate full band version) Sung in a semi French/ German accent by Yvette.

"My outfit was all made all of vinyl
Like nothing that he'd ever seen
When our divorces are final
He'll fit right into my scheme
Right next to the pawnshop there is a chapel
I'll show you just what I mean
And if I fall asleep in your arms
Please wake me up in my dreams."

Song eventually changing into "More Than Rain"

13. More Than Rain: full band version, with harmonica intro. Sung by Frank (Tom Waits).

14. Innocent When You Dream: Theme-song. Second version sung by Frank (Tom Waits) at "Zookie's Talent Search". At this moment Frank's friends are aware of his lies. Frank dedicates the song to his friends: "I'd like to dedicate this to Dag Wilson, Willa Bloom, J.P Fitzgerald, and Bongo Sweetkind..."

15. In A Suit Of Your Dreams: (unreleased variation on "Innocent When You Dream".) Sung as a commercial by Frank (Tom Waits) as a slick business promoter.

"Come on down to Zookie's
Join our Zookie's team
So come on down to Zookie's
You're in a suit of your dreams
You're in a suit of your dreams
So come on down to Zookie's
And join our Zookie's team
Come on down to Zookie's
You're in a suit of your dreams
Of your dreams
You're in a suit of your dreams
Of your dreams
You're in a suit of your dreams."

16. If I Have To Go: (Studio version released in 2006 on Orphans) sung by Frank (Tom Waits) as he is on a park bench in a snowstorm in East St Louis, dreaming about dancing with Willa.

17. Just The Way We Are: (unreleased early version, later featured in Woyzeck, 1999) sung/ screamed by entire cast.

"That's just the way we are
Well never try to change us now
It's just the way we are
It's just the way we are boys
It's just the way we are
Don't ever try to bring us down
Cause it's just the way we are."

18. Down, Down, Down: (Swordfishtrombones) full band version sung by announcer as Reverend Bobby Whitewatch tries to "heal" Frank.

Announcer: "You need the warmth of a friend." 
Frank: "I do."
Announcer: "You need the hand of guidance, here, Frank O'Brien,
put on these dark glasses, the reverend is waiting for you..."

Tom Waits: "It's best described as pentecostal revron man. I was stranded in Arizona on the route 66. It was freezing cold and I slept at a ditch. I pulled all these leaves all over on top of me and dug a hole and shoved my feet in this hole. It was about 20 below and no cars going by. Everything was closed. When I woke up in the morning there was a pentecostal church right over the road. I walked over there with leaves in my hair and sand on the side of my face. This woman named Mrs. Anderson came. It was like New years eve... Yeah, it was New years eve. She said: "We're having services here and you are welcome to join us." So It's at at the back pew in this tiny little church. And this mutant rock'n'roll band got up and started playing these old hymns in such a broken sort of way. They were preaching, and every time they said something about the devil or evil or going down the wrong path she gestured in the back of the church to me. And everyone would turn around and look and shake their heads and then turn back to the preacher. It gave me a complex that I grew up with. On Sunday evening they have these religious programs where the preachers they are all bankers. They get on with these firering glasses and 700 $ suits. Shake their finger at America. So this is kind of my own little opportunity at the lectern."(2)

19. Train Song: sung by Frank (Tom Waits) close to dying on the park bench. After reverend Bobby Whitewatch healing session.

Frank: "I'm blind, Bobby and I've been blind. It was a car accident in Kentucky.
It was the other driver's fault."

Reverend Bobby: "There's no fault in the eyes of the Lord."

Tom Waits: "Kind of a gospel number. Frank is on the bench, really on his knees and can't go any further. At the end of his rope on a park bench with an advertisement that says "Palladin Funeral Home."(1)
Tom Waits: "Well, that's where it starts. When you're young you think everything is possible and that you're in the sun and all that. I always liked that Bob Dylan song, "I was young when I left home and I rambled around and I never wrote a letter to my home, to my home. Never wrote a letter to my home." You don't always know where you're going till you get there. That's the thing about train travel, at least when you say goodbye they get gradually smaller. Airplanes, people go through a door and they're gone. Very strange. They say now that jet lag is really your spirit catching up to your body."(4)

20.  Innocent When You Dream: Theme-song. Instrumental version as curtain calls.

Frank (spoken as reading a letter out loud): "Dear Willa, Dagster, Fitz and Bongo. Palm Springs has got to be one of the most beautiful spots on god's earth..... Dear friends, I got to a place that was so crowded I lost sight of my dream. Or maybe my dream lost sight of me, I don't know. Should I be waiting for a dream [?]... Standing on a corner, waiting for a ride, planning a trip... Oh, by the way, I'm working on some brand new material. Thanks for keeping me warm in your thoughts. Love ..."


Cold, Cold Ground: (not performed in the play).
Tom Waits: "That's the only real Marty Robbins-influenced number on there. Just kind of a hardening back to his earlier times; a romantic song thinking about home, and all that."(1)

I'll Be Gone: (not performed in the play).
Tom Waits: "Kind of a Tarus Bulba number. Almost like a tarantella. A Russian dance. The guy is speaking further of his departure --- "in the morning, I'll be gone." The images . . . nitroglycerin, the pounding of hooves, women in the tent. Tomorrow we ride. It's an adventure number. Halloween music . . . from Torrance. Ritual music. Part of a pagan ritual we still observe in the Los Angeles area."(1)

Telephone Call From Istanbul: (not performed in the play).
Tom Waits: "Started as a title, then became just a junkyard for uh . . . one banjo and drums there. Got a little eastern slant on it. I don't know, beyond that. Frank is just started to plummet here; things are starting to fracture a bit."(1)

Way Down In The Hole: (not performed in the play).
Tom Waits: "Checkerboard Lounge gospel. Here, Frank has thrown in with a berserk evangelist."(1)


(1) Source: "From The Set Of Ironweed" New York Post (USA), by Rip Rense. Transcription as published on Seth Nielsen's Tom Waits Digest. Edited version reprinted in Franks Wild Years tourbook, 1987. Date: early 1987

(2) Source: "Tom Waits - Swordfishtrombones". Island Promo interview, 1983

(3) Source: "The Marlowe Of The Ivories". New Musical Express magazine. Barney Hoskyns. May 25, 1985

(4) Source: "Tom Waits is flying upside down (on purpose)". Musician, Mark Rowland October, 1987