Martha by Tom Waits

Martha by Tom Waits


Listen to the song and read the lyrics (with some gaps for the sake of practising listening comprehension…)

When I first heard this song I felt like crying: the power of a real love that was never meant to be! But as years went by I started to change my mind. What a nerve! What’s the purpose of his call? She has a life away from him, probably a happy one after a more than likely difficult relationship with someone who just wanted “to be a man”, whatever that’s supposed to mean. Ghosts from the past rubbing salt on wounds? He wants to recover his happy past now that he’s old and most likely alone in life. When I was young I thought his call was a sign of romantic love. Now I see it is as a desperate call from someone who knows he has wasted his life. It is a great song and very moving, though.

Do you agree with me?

(First published in Old Reviews, Debates and Resources.)


2 thoughts on “Martha by Tom Waits

  1. Hello.
    I think you got it wrong.
    This song tells in other words what Luis Eduardo Aute tells in his song “las cuatro y diez”.
    Though in this case Tom is calling Martha on the phone and trying to set a date with her to talk about the old times.
    What happened is that they split up many years ago.

  2. I totally agree with you. As you perfectly have said, this song gives me a visual image of an old man who now is alone and regrets of what he did in the past in relation to this woman.
    Unfortunately this is a very frequent situation. Many people try to have a very intensive live during youth. It’s a good option, but it’s also very important for us, the human beings, not to put people off, specially those who appreciate you or really love you, like friends or partners. Your life could be wonderful but if one day you find yourself in a complicated situation or you feel alone, it’s very important to have someone to rely on.
    In my opinión, there’s no reason to talk about the distant past now. This woman surely has remade her life and if I were her, I wouldn’t like and old boyfriend to call me asking me for time to have a talk about the past and our relationship.

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