Advent song for December 14: Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis

From the opening line (Tom Waits at his gruffest, singing “Charlie, I’m pregnant”), this is an unlikely song, whose narrative gets more improbably distressing as it goes on. Our hooker has suffered almost every kind of misfortune you can think of, and some you probably can’t. It’s one of only two songs I can currently think of (the other is Carter USM’s England) where a male vocalist sings evocatively, articulately and heartbreakingly about being a female sex worker, and for that alone we should salute it.

Advent song for December 13: Happy Christmas, Jim!

The first time I heard Tom Waits, I thought it was a joke. I’m still not sure that it isn’t, but I have come round to him in a way I never quite managed with e.g. Bob Dylan, Lou Reed or any number of other American men with unusual singing styles. I think it’s partly because it’s so much fun doing an impression of him. Also, the songs are good, and this is no exception. It’s not terrifically Christmassy, but he has made up for it in this live version by stitching a couple of verses of Silent Night onto it, so it definitely counts.

I expect you know your own mind and never need to look to other people to figure out what you think about a thing. That’s because you are very grown up and supremely well-balanced. I, on the other hand, am not very good at deciding what I think, but that’s OK because I am good at finding people whose moral and aesthetic compasses are so well-aligned with mine that I just have to find out what they think and I will usually agree. My husband is one of those people, and Jim is another. I don’t know Jim very well, but whenever I am not sure what to think about a thing, I look to Jim’s opinion to get a pointer towards my own.

Jim has a son and a daughter, which is excellent, because if you were to design the ideal dad, you might end up with Jim. Really, he should have a whole lot more children and populate all of South West England with a bunch of mini-Jims. Perhaps I will suggest this to him.

Happy Christmas, Jim!