Tom Waits’ Anti-War Video: ‘Hell Broke Luce’ – What is next?

Published on Aug 6, 2012
Directed By Matt Mahurin

“Hell Broke Luce” from the album ‘Bad As Me’, Anti Records 2011, is one of the best anti-war song/video:

Hell Broke Luce by Tom Waits

 

Tom explained the title of this nightmarish song in a Slate interview: Tom Waits Discusses His New Album Bad as Me:

Slate: The spelling of the new song, “Hell Broke Luce,” where’d that come from?

Waits: There was a prisoner in Alcatraz during a prison riot—this goes back to the ’40s. And during the riot, of course, everyone was nervous, and he scratched on the wall with a knife. And he wrote “hell broke luce,” and that’s how he spelled it.  Alcatraz—they have an amazing bookstore. But I got separated from everyone else on the tour. After a while something happened with my headset, and I was out of step and I didn’t know where the rest of the people were, so I just sat in one of the cells for a while.

Slate: It seems like a more pointed war song than you’ve recorded previously.

Waits: Loaded. Anyway. … I’ve been hearing that line a whole lot: “You had a good home but you left.” And so I somehow … ahhh. Keith [Richards] said that [Army] officers will hate that song, but enlisted men will love it. The army’s interested in it, as an ad for, you know, their commercials. It’s an answer to “Be all you can be.”  It’s a cautionary tale. Obviously.

Obviously, indeed.

Song lyrics:

I had a good home but I left
I had a good home but I left, right, left
That big fuckin bomb made me deaf, deaf
A Humvee mechanic put his Kevlar on wrong
I guarantee you’ll meet up with a suicide bomb
Hell broke luce
Hell broke luce

Big fuckin ditches in the middle of the road
You pay a hundred dollars just for fillin in the hole
Listen to the general every goddamn word
How many ways can you polish up a turd
Left, right, left, left, right
Left, right
Hell broke luce
Hell broke luce
Hell broke luce

How is it that the only ones responsible for making this mess
Got their sorry asses stapled to a goddamn desk
Hell broke luce
Hell broke luce
Left, right, left

What did you do before the war?
I was a chef, I was a chef
What was your name?
It was Geoff, Geoff
I lost my buddy and I wept, wept
I come down from the meth
So I slept, slept
I had a good home but I left, left
Pantsed at the wind for a joke
I pranced right in with the dope
Glanced at her shin she said nope
Left, right, left

Nimrod Bodfish have you any wool
Get me another body bag the body bag’s full
My face was scorched, scorched
I miss my home I miss my porch, porch
Left, right, left

Can I go home in March? March
My stanch was a chin full of soap
That rancid dinner with the pope
Left, right, left

Kelly Presutto got his thumbs blown off
Sergio’s developing a real bad cough
Sergio’s developing a real bad cough
Hell broke luce
Hell broke luce
Hell broke luce

Boom went his head away
And boom went Valerie
What the hell was it that the president said?
Give ‘em all a beautiful parade instead
Left, right, left

When I was over here I never got to vote
I left my arm in my coat
My mom she died and never wrote
We sat by the fire and ate a goat
Just before he died he had a toke
Now I’m home and I’m blind
And I’m broke
What is next?

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