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Now I’m home and I’m blind and I’m broke/What is next?
August 14, 2012 7:13 AM   Subscribe

"Hell Broke Luce" -- a surreal anti-war video from Tom Waits for his powerful song based on the harrowing story of Lance Corporal Jeff Lucey, a 23-year old Iraq war Marine veteran who committed suicide in 2004. From Waits' 22d album Bad As Me (2011, AntiRecords)

Lucey was also one of the subjects of a Frontline documentary called "The Soldier's Heart." (His case significantly complicates our current understanding of the horrors of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for veterans.)

Song lyrics at LyricsWiki.

Commentary on "Hell Broke Luce" at Common Dreams.

An alternate video to the song using images from Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket.

And from the first user comment on YouTube:
I'm an Iraq vet. This song evokes an amazing emotional reaction in me. So much of this is directly applicable to my experiences. Shit, Tom. Shit. Thank you so much for this.

NPR First Listen on Bad As Me.

Sasha Frere-Jones on Bad as Me.


Of course, this is not Waits' first powerful anti-war song. (I recommend reading the description under this YT video.)
posted by spitbull (25 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
Should have added that the video was directed by Matt Mahurin.
posted by spitbull at 7:25 AM on August 14, 2012


From the pictures that his website was posting in the lead-up, I was really hoping that Waits was going to do a pirate-themed album.

This was a great runner-up. Definitely my favourite song on the album.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:30 AM on August 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


While I'm not a fan of Waits - he actually annoys the everloving shit out of me - I am a fan of the return of the music video as an artform. After American cable networks more or less stopped showing music videos (or delegated them to early-morning blocks), videos seemed to disappear for a while before re-emerging slowly with the rise in popularity of streaming web video. I love that shit like this is getting the money to be made. I wonder who's paying for videos these days, though. I have a friend who was a major label (Atlantic) artist in the mid-90's and the label took the cost of his one and only high-dollar video, a piece that only ended up getting played a few times on 120 Minutes, out of his earnings. Unfortunately for him, his music wasn't suited for the masses and that video ended up causing him major financial stress when Atlantic eventually dropped him.

Derail over. I do like this video and'll be watching it again even if I won't be buying the music. I guess for me it's selling the director Matt Mahurin rather than Waits himself. I haven't seen any of Mahurin's other works, but i think I Like Killing Flies is on Netflix instant so I'll try to check it out.
posted by item at 7:33 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, that shook me right out of my comfort zone. God damn it. War f**king sucks.

I'm not a vet, and cannot conceive of the horrors and pain so many have endured. But I too say thank you, Mr. Waits. This is something everyone should see. Everyone.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:35 AM on August 14, 2012


I Like Killing Flies is great, especially since I think Kenny Shopsin is awesome.

Anyway, I know people were disappointed (some disturbingly so) that all the tease didn't herald a tour, but frankly, an amazing video about the effects of war on a soldier is more than recompense. I guess it depends on what your priorities are.
posted by Kitteh at 7:36 AM on August 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hell Broke Luce was easily the best song on the last album, and I say that as someone who tends to prefer his ballad-y pieces more than the really dissonant ones (although this song in particular got me to start listening to those again).

Another powerful Tom Waits anti-war song: Day After Tomorrow.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:40 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Great video, terrific stuff.

I Like Killing Flies is terrific, especially if you're able to eat at Shopsin's shortly afterwards.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:44 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Great song, great video.

The title is a play on Lucey's name, but Waits also tells this story:
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.
posted by maudlin at 7:51 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Road to Peace is another dark Waits/Brennan piece about war, Israeli/Palestinian hostilities in particular.
posted by usonian at 8:07 AM on August 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think one of my favorite Waits songs, Ruby's Arms (from Heart Attack and Vine), is actually an anti-war song, as the narrator tells the sleeping Ruby "you'll find another soldier." I always interpret that to mean he's off to war again.

Indeed, Waits' whole universe is full of war-injured characters. It's often somewhere in the background.

By the way, can you imagine, by coincidence, finding yourself in a tour group at Alcatraz with Tom freaking Waits?
posted by spitbull at 8:17 AM on August 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


Is this where I can mention that Tom Waits is the Joker?
posted by schmod at 8:21 AM on August 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


The video is visually delicious; loved it. Lucey's story is just heartbreaking, though. Fucking pointless goddamn war just ruining lives. It's insane, it's so wrong.
posted by heyho at 8:25 AM on August 14, 2012


I'm not a vet, and cannot conceive of the horrors and pain so many have endured. But I too say thank you, Mr. Waits. This is something everyone should see. Everyone.

I am a vet, and I also say thank you Mr. Waits. And chops to kinnaekeet.

One of my two closest friends from the Marines killed himself in 2003. One of the toughest, strongest, most ready for a fight anywhere men. A man whom I loved unreservedly and unashamedly, died because he couldn't transition and felt (ironically) that he was missing something by not being in Iraq. I read the articles and watched the video and must confess to all of you that I am crying at my desk.

Fuck.
posted by jason says at 8:48 AM on August 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


Hang in there, jason says. Thank you for serving.
posted by spitbull at 8:52 AM on August 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Another powerful Tom Waits anti-war song: Day After Tomorrow.

I am not fighting for justice
I am not fighting for freedom
I am fighting for my life
and another day in the world here

Chills, every goddamn time.
posted by owtytrof at 9:38 AM on August 14, 2012


Chills, every goddamn time.

The one that always gets me is:

It is so hard
And it's cold here
And I'm tired of taking orders
And I miss old Rockford town
Up by the Wisconsin border

What I miss you won't believe
Shoveling snow and raking leaves
And my plane will touch down
On the day after tomorrow

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:09 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is one of the best music videos I have seen in a long time.
posted by vibrotronica at 10:30 AM on August 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


For Eli by Andrea Gibson.
posted by homunculus at 11:58 AM on August 14, 2012


Looking forward to seeing this - (vids blocked at work). But this one always gets me, from Swordfishtrombones:

"a tinker, a tailor
a soldier's things
his rifle, his boots full of rocks
oh, and this one is for bravery
and this one is for me
and everything's a dollar
in this box"
posted by jetsetsc at 1:12 PM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yep, see my last link for a beautiful fan-made video for that one.
posted by spitbull at 1:23 PM on August 14, 2012


I was hoping for another tour; I saw Tom at two stops on his last big sweep, at two very different venues. He was amazing.

And this video's great, but I'm surprised it's getting much love? I thought the song sounded too much like someone said to him he should write a real Tom Waitsey song.

Can I also take a chance to point fans toward the criminally under-appreciated 'On the Road,' off Orphans? Because it's about 700,000 times better than reading Kerouac.

Is this where I can mention that Tom Waits is the Joker?

NOOP!, he is the Cookie Monster.
posted by samofidelis at 3:40 PM on August 14, 2012


Holy cow. Sharing this all the hell over the place.
posted by edheil at 5:32 PM on August 14, 2012


Wow. I'm guessing Rod Stewart won't be covering this one.
posted by jetsetsc at 7:22 PM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hoist that rag is the defining anti-war Waits song.
At least for me; with a career as ....varied as Waits', that's kind of a necessary caveat.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:51 PM on August 14, 2012


The one with the bunny
posted by homunculus at 10:06 AM on August 15, 2012


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