Song of the Day: Hell Broke Luce by Tom Waits

Related image

“Hell Broke Luce” is a song by American singer-songwriter Tom Waits from his 16th studio album Bad As Me.

This song is about the horrors of war. Waits took the title from graffiti that he read had been scribbled on the walls of Alcatraz, which was a notorious prison located on an island off San Francisco, and is now a popular tourist attraction.


I had a good home but I left
I had a good home but I left, right, left
That big fucking 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 fucking 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
And hell broke luce
Hell broke luce
Hell broke luce

Boom went his head away
And boom went Valerie huh
What the hell was it that the president said?
Give him 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

Red Hot Chili Pepper Flea plays bass on this track, whilst Rolling Stone Keith Richards also contributes some guitar work.

The genesis of this song dates back to the period between Real Gone and Orphans in the mid 2000s, when Waits claimed to be working on an album called “Hell Brakes Luce.”

The song’s music video was directed by photographer Matt Mahurin, who has also helmed visuals for U2, Peter Gabriel, and Bush. It finds Waits towing a house in an aquatic war zone. “Matt Mahurin has created an apocalyptic war dream to accompany the song ‘Hell Broke Luce,'” explained Wait. “Kathleen [Brennan] and I envisioned it as an enlightened drill sergeant yelling the hard truths of war to a brand new batch of recruits. The video grew from the gnawing image of a soldier pulling his home, through a battlefield, at the end of a rope.”

A musician never knows if they’re going to end up on a Tom Waits record. Percussionist Gino Robair recalled to Uncut: “I spent three days on ‘Hell Broke Luce.’ He (Waits) sent me a 20-second drum sample from this record from the 1920s, he wanted to loop it and for me to play a drum part,.We tried everything on all these old snare drums – out in the yard, inside, wherever. When the record came out, he’d replaced everything we’d done. He decided the song had to go in a different direction, and it’s one of the best tracks. So you never really know. He’s an improviser. You just have to go in there and have fun.” via [songfacts]


Tom Waits

Image result for tom waits

Birth name Thomas Alan Waits
Born December 7, 1949 (age 68)
Pomona, California, United States
  • Rock
  • blues
  • experimental
  • Singer-songwriter
  • musician
  • composer
  • actor
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
  • accordion
Years active 1972–present
  • Asylum
  • Island
  • ANTI-
Associated acts Primus
This entry was posted in Music and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply