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?

Song Premiere: Robert Plant’s Bold New Band

Robert Plant and his new band.

Robert Plant and his new band.


Of all the artists making music in the ’60s and ’70s and still making music today, continues to keep his music vital and interesting. His music with in 2007 was steeped in the bluesy rock the singer does best, but it wasn’t nostalgic, it was fresh. In 2010 it was Band Of Joy with and , again surprising and lovable. Now the sixty-five year old former singer has a new band and project, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters. Judging from the one song we’re premiering here today I’m eager to get my hands on the new album.

Robert Plant - Born in England; made in the U.S.

Robert Plant – Born in England; made in the U.S.


It’s urgent. It’s acrobatic. It’s pulsing with raw sexuality. It is the unmistakable voice of Robert Plant.

Plant was just 19 when he joined in 1968. He was already known as “The Wild Man of Blues From the Black Country” in the area around Birmingham, England. His new album, Band of Joy, is named after one of his earliest bands, and you can hear a lot of the same influences now as then.


This song, called “Rainbow,” is a haunting, percussive mix of rock and soul. It’s from a new record, lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar (the l is lower case intentionally), which comes out on Sept. 9 on a new label for Robert Plant, Nonesuch. In a press release, he calls it “a celebratory record, powerful, gritty, African, Trance meets Zep.” His band includes Justin Adams on various percussion including bendir and djembe and also guitar; John Baggott on keyboards, loops, moog bass and piano; Juldeh Camara on ritti (a single stringed fiddle); Billy Fuller on bass, drum programming and omnichord; Dave Smith on drums and Liam “Skin” Tyson on banjo and guitar. Tchad Blake mixed all but a few of the album’s tracks and he really is a master at making even the ordinary sound extraordinary. You may know his work with Elvis Costello, Sam Phillips, Peter Gabriel, Tom Waits and so many more. Plant will tour with the new album in the fall — all we know now is that there are shows planned at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Sept. 27 and 28.


“The complexion of this adventure — it’s definitely made in America,” Plant says. “As a kid — and most of us British musicians — we felt the resonance of American music. It’s all the stuff that affected me and made me quite emotional when I was a kid. All that great stuff — mix it and twirl it around if you like with the more glossy American doo-wop/pop, which you can hear on Band of Joy. If you listen to the Kelly Brothers song ‘Falling in Love Again,’ you hear that sweet side of the sound.”

With 40 years of music behind him, Plant has been exposed to much music. In an interview, All Things Considered host Melissa Block asks how Plant finds new paths to songs.

“I hear so many songs that many years ago I would have thought unassailable,” Plant says. “When you’re 20 years old and you’re making points with volume and dynamism, it’s a fantastic thing to do. But just to enjoy an adventure in restraint, it’s like, what don’t you do to make it work.”

On Band of Joy, Plant’s cover of “Silver Rider” by the indie-rock band is about as restrained as you can get.

For Plant, there was no training his voice — just singing.

“I used to deliver newspapers, and I got enough money to send off to King Records in Cincinnati from Worcestershire in England, as a 13-year-old,” Plant says. “I got the original pressings of ‘s Live at the Apollo — a voice that’s absolutely unbelievable. And then, whoop, some crackling radio underneath my pillow gives me singing ‘Way Over There’ — ‘What’s this? This is what it is. This is people letting every single breath that they’ve got out.’ It’s just too much. I had to try and get there.

“So many white kids, English kids — we had no culture,” Plant says. “We had no points of reference, really, apart from these hazy radio signals fading in and out depending on the weather over your mom and dad’s house. We just ate it up and just tried to get it like that. We all failed miserably, to be honest.”

The voice of “Whole Lotta Love” failed miserably? According to Plant, he was too invested in academia and doing what his parents asked of him. He hadn’t hit those “subterranean grooves yet.” But he says that when he listens back to those Led Zeppelin records now, he hears a “precocious” kid, “looking into the crowd and wiggling his legs about and wondering what’s for supper” — metaphorically, of course.

Glorious Failures And Magnificent Moments

There are so many instances when Plant’s voice entwines with Jimmy Page’s guitar. Block wonders if that guitar influenced his voice.

“The kind of vocal exaggeration that I developed was based on what key songs were in,” Plant says. “Lots of songs would be in E or A, which you got to get up there if you’re going to sing in E. Some nights it was great and some nights, live, you had to run for cover. I’d like to pretend that the PA had broken sometimes, because I set myself huge challenges to try and be consistent. And some of those vocal performances were, you know, real tough. And some of them we cheated, you know, used vari-speed and got up there. Here and there you can hear, [they] slowed down the tape and then [I’d] sing over it and speed it back up again, you know … Mama, mama, mama, mama! ‘Cause it fitted. Back in those early days, I was flying by the seat of my pants quite a lot, and there were glorious failures, and there were magnificent moments.”

At some point, Plant’s voice became an instrument, but he doesn’t quite liken it to Page’s guitar.

“It’s a weird thing to do, because the voice doesn’t have that kind of flexibility,” Plant says. “I wanted my voice to be a tenor sax, really. I wanted to be . I wanted to be . I just think that certain instruments have so much more chance of following the electric charges in your mind. When you’re listening to people play the post-bebop stuff, you can hear this great instrumentation. But for a singer, you’ve got to work with syllables; you’ve got to work with themes and lyric. I’ve got to learn to play something soon.”

Considering his range and wail, it’s amazing that Plant has a voice left at all.

“I never stop and think anything, and that’s why talking to you is quite a revelation,” Plant says. “I never even think about these things. When you’re in a recording studio and you’ve got a microphone, and the tape’s rolling, and everybody’s playing, you just do it. You go into this place that makes sense for the moment. I can’t think about it in a straight line and say, ‘This is how I did this or that or the other,’ because even within a [Led] Zeppelin album, there was so much variance, and that’s what makes a career, a passage of time, a great gift. But my voice — how did I ever know I could do it? Listen to it now — I sound like Hoagy Carmichael. I feel good about what I’m doing, so I guess if I shut up for a couple of days, I can sing good again.”


This was a show full of surprises. First off, Band of Joy wasn’t just backing . It’s a band that happens to have Plant as a member. Sometimes multi-instrumentalist sung lead while Plant played harmonica. At other times, singer-songwriter or country artist took center stage. Sure, Plant was the main reason fans turned out at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City. But this was a remarkable band giving a stunning performance.

Another surprise was Plant’s demeanor. He never cut loose. Even on a song like the track “Gallows’ Pole,” there was no crazy wailing. In fact, all of the Zeppelin tunes were beautifully restrained.

That led to another surprise: I never missed Plant’s Zeppelin histrionics. His restraint was exactly what this setting called for. The show was still a memorable treat: Amazing players applying their craft to great American blues and old timey tunes, along with some good old rock ‘n’ roll.

The final surprise was that I liked the covers as much as the Led Zeppelin songs. It’s safe to say that everyone smiled a little more when Band of Joy launched into “Misty Mountain Hop,” “Houses of the Holy,” “Gallows Pole” and “Rock and Roll.” But truth be told, traditional songs and cover tunes such as the cut “Angel Dance,” a gospel medley that included “12 Gates to the City” and “House of Cards,” are what ultimately made this night a perfect delight.

The show was recorded at the Bowery Ballroom by Edward Haber, Irene Trudel, George Wellington and Mike Poole. It was mixed at Jerome L. Greene Performance Space by Mike Poole and Edward Haber.




Tom Waits – ‘Lie to Me’ [video]

Tom Waits -‘ Lie to Me’  (Live, Atlanta 2008)

“Lie To Me,” the opening track on a three-disc mother lode of rarities Tom Waits calls Orphans, is two minutes and 10 seconds of pure, unfiltered rock ‘n’ roll bliss. It’s not an ironic comment on rock hooliganism, or some sort of elliptical Waitsian postdoctoral thesis on the music’s history, but a handclapped backbeat twitching like it did in Memphis. And a guitar melody running cool and steady like the 8:40 local into town. And vocals, bathed in old-school reverb, that lift Waits out of the gutter long enough for him to channel the ghost of some long-dead early rock idol. Or a composite of ten of them.

Waits is a child of rock, of course. On his records he’s been cagey about it, employing discreet rockisms behind his carefully desiccated and determinedly pre-rock voice. Here, though, as he begs his baby to keep feeding his head with lies, he sounds like he’s living out the teen fantasies proffered by Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers. He’s wild, she’s wild, the band’s crazy gone — we all want to be lied to like this.

“Lie To Me” isn’t the single best song on this overstuffed set, but it’s one of the most disarming ones, with a roar that can knock listeners sideways. That makes it a perfect tone-setter for the immense, thematically arranged outpouring that follows. By starting in this way, Waits signals that maybe we don’t know him as well as we thought — and suggests, in the most gracious way imaginable, that we ought to check all assumptions about him at the door.

Tom Waits’ unique vocal style and devoted following has such appeal to advertisers that they have resorted to using sound-alikes when Waits turns down requests to use his original music. That has led the artist to take legal action.

Tom Waits’ Saddest Song: Kentucky Avenue, live at the BBC in 1978.


Ross Bennett is right:  Only a heart of stone could resist Tom Waits’s Kentucky Avenue, live at the BBC in 1978.

“This is a song about growing up,” says Asylum Records’ barfly raconteur Tom Waits at the start of his BBC performance of this devastating ballad from 1978’s Blue Valentine.

A trip down memory lane that mixes the wide-eyed abandon of childhood (“Let’s fill our pockets with macadamia nuts / Then go over to Bobby Goodmanson’s and jump off the roof”) with a harsh reality (“I’ll steal a hacksaw from my dad / And cut the braces off your legs”), it is, in true Waits-ian fashion, a beautiful dream frayed at the edges, all captured in a four-and-a-half minute MGM lullaby that might just be one of the saddest songs ever.

“My best friend, when I was a kid, had polio,” recalled Waits in 1981. “I didn’t understand what polio was. I just knew it took him longer to get to the bus stop than me. I dunno. Sometimes I think kids know more than anybody. I rode a train once to Santa Barbara with this kid and it almost seemed like he lived a life somewhere before he was born and he brought what he knew with him into this world and so… it’s what you don’t know that’s usually more interesting.”

Check out Waits’ extraordinary performance right now. Watch video below.

Watch Tom Waits Perform @ Bridge School Benefit Concert over the weekend – the musician’s first live outing in all of five years.

Tom Waits

Tom Waits

Along with the likes of Arcade Fire and more, Tom Waits performed at Neil Young‘s annual Bridge School Benefit concert over the weekend, what was the musician’s first live outing in all of five years.

Waits, clad in his signature suit and hat, ran through some tracks from his most recent LP, Bad As Me, as well as some classic cuts (“Singapore”, “Tom Traubert’s Blues” et al).

On a bill which also included Queens Of The Stone Age, My Morning Jacket and CSNY, Waits played a 10 song set, marking his first onstage performance since he sang ‘Little Red Rooster’ alongside The Rolling Stones at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California in May of this year. Prior to that, Waits’ last headline show was at Dublin’s Phoenix Park in August 2008.

Waits played with Les Claypool on the upright bass and David Hidalgo on guitar and accordion. He performed classic tracks ‘Singapore’ and ‘Cemetery Polka’ from ‘Rain Dogs’ as well as ‘Tom Traubert’s Blues’, and a number of songs from his most recent album, 2011’s ‘Bad As Me’, including ‘Chicago’, ‘Last Leaf’ and ‘Raised Right Men’.

Arcade Fire performed on the first night (October 26) of the weekend event, during which they played a track with Neil Young. Introducing the track, singer Win Butler said he had a dream in which he wrote a new song and realised it sounded like a Neil Young song. Butler then declared that the song was called ‘I Dreamed A Neil Young Song’, before inviting the legendary singer, who curated the weekend of music onto the stage. Arcade Fire played a full acoustic set at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California.

Check out the full performance below, via CoS:

Video: Tom Waits “Raised Right Men” Live Acoustic @ Bridge School Benefit, Shoreline 10-27-2013

Published on Oct 27, 2013

Tom Waits played:

Raised Right Men
Talking at the Same Time
Lucky Day
Tom Traubert’s Blues
Last Leaf
Cemetery Polka
Come On Up to the House