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The Soundtrack: Innocent When You Dream

You may have noticed over on the right hand side of the site that there’s an Imeem playlist featuring ‘the music of Tumor.’ These songs range from the ones that inspired the tone and feel, to just damn good writin’ music. I thought I’d take some time to talk about the songs over the next few weeks.

I’m gonna start with Innocent When You Dream by Tom Waits. The album this is from, Frank’s Wild Years was a huge influence over the general tone of the book. Hell, I even named the main character Frank. This album stands as sort of a bridge. While released after Swordfishtrombones and Rain Dogs, which both marked the drastic change in style from the drunken piano bar Bukowski character to the progressive madman, Frank’s Wild Years has always felt like more of a bridge between the two. It contains a heaping helping of deconstructionist, absurdist, sound poetry, but, it also has a haunting theme, and some truly beautiful songs.

Primarily, the eerie, creepy, and, frankly, lovely, Innocent When You Dream.

Had Jerry and I not recorded theme music for the trailer, this would almost definitely be the theme song.  Tumor, to me, is a book about the mistakes of our past, and how we let them guide us.  Frank Armstrong, as a character has let his every mistake guide him down the twists and turns of life, leading him deeper and deeper into the gutter.  He’s living just off of Skid Row in a building somewhere near the old Van Nuys Building.  He’s associating with the dregs of society, and has no choice but to be a part of them, but, somewhere in his mind there’s a happier life.  The life with Rosa, that one may imply, did not end so well for anyone involved.

Frank O’Brien, of Frank’s Wild Years, is a skid row bum of his own, trapped in hopeless dreams of friends, family, success, and all the trappings thereof.  Innocent When You Dream serves as both a comfort and a terrible realization. There’s the comforting, old-timey feeling of the music, juxtaposed with the heart breakingly sad lyrics about love and loss and losing yourself. These are all of the things that Tumor is about, for me. I just hope I can do Mr. Waits’ inspiration justice.

If you’re not familiar with Mr. Waits, any of the links in the above section are worthy places to start, and I couldn’t recommend trying him out more. You’re in for a treat.

Rereading the lyrics to the song, while writing the above, I realized just how much this album, and this song inspired me, so I figured I’d share ’em, just in case the great bard’s warbling leaves you scratching your head.

Innocent When You Dream
by Tom Waits

It’s such a sad old feeling
the fields are soft and green
it’s memories that I’m stelaing
but you’re innocent when you dream
when you dream
you’re innocent when you dream

running through the graveyard
we laughed my friends and I
we swore we’d be together
until the day we died
until the day we died

I made a golden promise
that we would never part
I gave my love a locket
and then I broke her heart
and then I broke her heart

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