Innocent When You Dream


Jon calls this “One of Tom Waits’ great parlour ballads. His wife is American Irish and they do spend time in Ireland with her extended family so the influence of Irish parlour balladry is probably quite direct. John and I do this one a lot.”

If I’ve got this right then Wait’s wife, Kathleen Brennan, was very involved here as this is the record of the musical stage play Franks Wild Years that sort of span out of the comic monologue of the same title on Swordfishtrombones. It was a moderately successful  Off Broadway production and a proper collaboration between Tom and Kathleen. For me it’s probably the drop off point from an artist I became wildly obsessed with during a whiskey sodden night at the start of the 80s. I was fortunate enough to see him on The Heart Attack & Vine tour and then a couple of years later on the Raindogs tour. Both were exceptional shows, quite different – the first quite intimate, the second lurching and wonky  –  but each crowned by magnetic performances from Tom. After that, I suppose the acting took off and the paradox for me was that somehow the real drama of his nourish vignettes seemed to fade. Hey-ho. Still this is one of Tom’s songs that really does lend itself to interpretation and has an almost folk-naiveté about its meadows, dew, hills fields, etc, even if the implication is we are not when we are not.



29 Responses to “Innocent When You Dream”

  1. John says:

    This is a lovely song and does sound rather like a parlour ballad. It makes a nice contrast to the accompanied version on Spiers & Boden’s Songs CD. As far as Tom Waits is concerned, I’d say he just seems to get better and better as the years have passed as he has expanded his range of styles and songwriting. His last studio album, the 3CD set Orphans, is possibly the best thing he’s ever done. I was also listening to his most recent Glitter and Doom Live album at the weekend, which was recorded in 2009, and it’s superb.

  2. JohnnyEv says:

    Tom Waits, excellent stuff! Heart Attack & Vine is up there in my top ten LP’s (oooh showing my age now!). “Don’t you know their ain’t no devil, it’s just God when he’s drunk”….. hard to beat lines like that.

  3. Joe Offer says:

    I hadn’t heard this song before and I couldn’t find anything about it at Mudcat (other than on message of praise for the Spiers & Boden recording), but I did come across this page on the song:

    Nice song, well sung.

    -Joe Offer-

  4. Shelley says:

    Always a treat when Spiers and Boden include this in their set – a fantastic song.

  5. Phil says:

    I’m allergic to Tom Waits’s voice, so I’ve never heard this before & probably wouldn’t have appreciated it if I had done. Very nice, and very much a kind of alternative-universe parlour ballad.

  6. Diana says:

    One of my favourite Spiers and Boden songs, but Jon solo does a fine job. Still prefer a musical accompaniment to some of these songs.

  7. Muzza(NW-Surrey, UK) says:

    Unfortunately,Joe’s link above seems to have been lost,however,

    1)The bats are in the belfry
    the dew is on the moor
    where are the arms that held me
    and pledged her love before
    and pledged her love before


    It’s such a sad old feeling
    the fields are soft and green
    it’s memories that I’m stealing
    but you’re innocent when you dream
    when you dream
    you’re innocent when you dream

    2)I made my love a promise
    that we would never part
    I gave my love a locket
    and then I broke her heart
    and then I broke her heart

    3)Running through the graveyard
    we laughed my friends and I
    we swore we’d be together
    until the day we died
    until the day we died


  8. Diana says:

    @Muzza: I know the words by heart but it is nice to see them in print, so ta. I seem to recollect this song from way back but cannot pin it down – perhaps Jane will throw some light on the subject.

  9. Pewter says:

    Here’s how it sounds on Tom Wait’s ‘Frank’s Wild Years’:

    Can’t believe I’ve beaten Janie to this You Tube link!

  10. Peter Walsh says:

    That should read Tom Waits’ etc., of course. Apostrophe in the wrong place, doh!

  11. Diana says:

    Pewter you really must have got up really early to beat Jane to the punch. I noticed your remarks the other day so replied there, as I arrived there before here if you understand my meaning – it does sound a bit muddled.

  12. Diana says:

    Followed your link too but must confess I prefer the song to the singer – his voice does not appeal to me at all. Do you think I will get excommunicated for this remark.

  13. Pewter says:

    He’s an acquired taste, Diana, as they say!

  14. Diana says:

    Pewter he must be – but I think his song is lovely. So will forgive him his voice if he turns out other songs like this.

    Muzza it is just as well you typed the words because Reynard is unable to put them on his site. Legal problems I believe.

  15. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ ‘Puter: You have beaten me to Tom Waits ‘cos I have been abed with sciatica, which started when we went to the Phil Beer gig and has been a right pain in the posterior ever since! I am a martyr to mi glass back, like Jack Duckworth… only he never had to do 15 cat litter trays daily with it – lucky devil! Hahahahahahaha!

    @ Diana: Pewter is always up earlier than me, save from this side of the morn, when I like to post some hopefully added value for all ye normal hours peeps to read when you get here. Having said that, nowt to add today as must finish my Big Cat-alogue – the AFSAD O-puss Magnus. Only a handful of back catalogue songs to go now, apart from ’til the end of the project. Yeh!

  16. Diana says:

    @Jane I am sorry to hear you have been stuck in bed with sciatica – I know it can be painful. Glad you are up and about again cos you have been sorely missed. Glad the Opus Magnus is building up and there is not too long to go – sob, sob as you would write.

    I see you have picked up on the “Puter” – i thought it was really funny when I saw the two words together. you don’t realise they have the same sound until you see them side by side,

  17. Muzza(NW-Surrey, UK) says:

    @Jane…….that old Si Atica is a lucky fellow to have charmed the Yorkshire lass/wench to the horizontal position…even if he is a pain in the backside…….
    Innocent dreams…..Oh yea…pull the other one…it’s got bells on!

  18. Jane Ramsden says:

    I like this song and have enjoyed the Tom Waits’ additions to this project – must investigate his music further when it ends – *sob, sob, sob*

    @ Diana: As luck would have it, just when the sciatica is subsiding, I have to go to the vet this afternoon with one of the heaviest cats in the house, ‘cos got a sore eye! Juat what I need, lugging a roly-poly cat abaht in a basket!

    @ Muzza: “even if he is a pain in the backside…….” Ye could have phrased that better… definitely in-u-end-o! Hahahahahahaha!

  19. Diana says:

    @Jane and Muzza: I really do have to chuckle at the comments you two come out with – I think you should go on the stage as a double act!!!

    Cats are flipping heavy time you get them in a carrier so be very careful if it is a roly poly one. It doesn’t take much to get the Si Atica going again.

  20. Muzza(NW-Surrey, UK) says:

    I handed my bulldog to the vet
    and after a few minutes examination he said “I’ll have to put him down”…
    I said..”I didn’t realise it was that serious” and he said,
    “there’s no problem..he’s just flipping heavy!”……………ta dah

    @Jane……ref FB..the answer to heavy cats….remote control hover cats..simples!

  21. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: Yorkshire cat joke: Little boy goes to vet with his poorly cat. Vet says ‘Is it a tom?’ Little lad says, ‘No, I brought it wi’ me.’ TA DAH!

    I’ll get back to you on the remote control hover cat on FB… it don’t look alive to me… & you a vegetarian…

  22. Diana says:

    @Jane: Gosh I am slow it took me a couple of minutes to get your joke. It is all in the pronunciation. As for Muzza he pinched my words with the flipping heavy – cheeky (spelt correctly this time) rascal. Do take care Jane – don’t want you off bad again.

  23. Muzza(NW-Surrey, UK) says:

    @Jane……ref the hovercat on FB…I have upset your friend Alex Bee!

  24. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: I saw! I thought best to leave comment to one side then and let the hover cat fly away! She is very attached to her cat, Mr Spocky.

  25. Diana says:

    Spiers and Boden do a great duet on this!

  26. Diana says:

    Still think the duo do such a great job on this.

  27. Linda says:

    Love Jon’s version of this… can’t seem to acquire the taste for Tom Waits have tried but the voice doesn’t do it for me…

  28. Linda says:

    Nice version still haven’t quite got Tom Waits but keep listening to one or two songs.

  29. David says:

    Sounds like a good career move to me, but your boss is the one who should have been fired. I recently finished watching the Tom Waits documentary, “Under The Influence” , which is excellent. It’s as much about the musicians and artists that have been an influence on Waits music over the course of his career as it is about Waits himself. There’s not a lot of the personal life biographical anecdotes that are found in most documentaries about artists and musicians, it’s almost all about the music. Lots of great old video of the like of Kerouac/Steve Allen (collaboration), Hoagy Carmichael, Captain Beefheart, Bukowski, Kurt Weill, and (surprisingly to me) Keith Richards).
    As for the Innocent When You Dream, the version on Frank’s Wild Years is wonderful, but I will always have a special place in my heart for the rendition sung during the closing credits of the film Smoke.

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