One of the songwriter's greatest songs is miserable: And what does misery love?
Tom Waits doesn't use the term "f*ck" lightly.
In fact, in the more than 250 released studio recordings from the songwriter, you'll find nary a mention, with exception to "Hell Broke Luce," from Waits' recent "Bad As Me."
It's unsettling to hear him say the word with emphasis -- and twice! -- but then again, "Luce" is an unsettling track. For this military cadence, Waits adoptive persona is a sour band of soldiers, lobbing dark humor and complaints from the frontline, as young kids would reflect on the "good homes" they left behind before they enlisted.
With the mention of Kevlar, meth, Humvees and suicide bombs, Waits effectively pairs the familiar "left right left" marching chant with vernacular and specific terrors of today's wars in the Middle East. And yet, the lost limbs, scorched skin, body bags and general laid waste are depressingly evergreen. With a "boom" he makes his thesis, that the horrors overseas follow soldiers home to America.
"Well I was over here, America, to vote / I left my arm in my coat / My mom she died and never wrote," he chants. Take the title of the song, with Luce as a character: "Now I’m home / and I’m blind / And I’m broke / What is next?"
"Hell Broke Luce" is a terrifying song. It's supposed to be, and it's also one of Waits' greatest achievements, new or not. It's a painful and political anti-war song for and within the fighting ranks, for after the war is "finished."