Daily Download: "Hold On," Tom Waits

Free music from Tom Waits.

Published April 8, 2005 7:01AM (EDT)

When Tom Waits' "Mule Variations" was released in 1999 I had mixed feelings about it: A consistently enjoyable record with some of Waits' best songs on it, but a little bit lightweight, a little too comfortably listenable, it felt to me like a great record that simultaneously signaled the beginning of an artistic decline in his career, the first sign of the dreaded middle-age mellowing. Six years later, no decline in sight, and with last year's "Real Gone" casting enough of an industrial light backward to harsh up the sepia tones of "Mule Variations" just a bit, I can love the record unconditionally. More sensible people probably loved it unconditionally the whole time, but in any case, here's "Hold On," as mellow as can be, but heartbreaking and heartwarming too, with some of my favorite lyrics of all time: "Down by the riverside motel/ It's 10 below and falling/ By a 99-cent store/ She closed her eyes and started swaying/ But it's so hard to dance that way/ When it's cold and there's no music."

By Salon Staff

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