Don't Wait Up

There's nothing more fun than watching my dad listen to this song. 

it's cold out and it's raining 

and my joints are all complaining

i'd murder for a simple cup of tea

i've been walking for a while

and i can't help myself but smile

when i think about you waiting up for me

the battery's low on my cellular phone

so 'though i promised to call you i don't

i'd rather catch my death of cold 

than go home with you to grow quietly old

i'll do all my walking alone

i'd rather have these rainy streets 

than anything that you've got for me

so don't wait up baby

you need your sleep

the cold has cut me to the quick

my hands are raw the streets are slick

there's a certain kind of tension in the trees

the wind is howling at the moon

so i'll find myself a saloon

and a stranger who is willing to listen to me

now my phone's out of range and i'm fresh out change

so 'though i promised to call you i don't 

i'd rather bend a stranger's ear

than suffocate in your atmosphere

i'd rather have these rainy streets 

than anything that you've got for me

so don't wait up baby

you need your sleep

i found myself inside a little cafe

where there were old men playing chess to while the hours away

i ordered up a slice of blueberry pie, put my feet up on a chair and left my coat in a pile and i said, "this'll do fine"

it's cozy in this dark café 

and i would dearly love to stay

I remember when Tom Waits came into my life. It was my eighteenth birthday and my first semester at Queen's. While everyone else was making friends and getting into the university experience, I was holding that whole business at arm's length. I lived on West Campus - still pretty close to the uni buildings, but not in the thick of it. I had my own dorm room with no roommate, I was playing in an R&B band as my part-time job (what up Soul Survivors!) and I was dating a dude in his 30s. My life didn't have the typical "hey I am 17 and I just moved out" feel to it. I spent a lot of time working in bars I was technically not old enough to be in and hanging out with folks more than a decade my senior. I guess I thought all this made me look cool. Maybe it did make me look cool? I was learning how to smoke more than two cigarettes a night and wear high heels. I was learning how to act nonchalant about sex, and to not seem afraid of driving on the 401. I was getting the hang of Young Adult. 

 

When my birthday rolled around that year, I was dating aforementioned Dude in His 30s. We hadn't been together very long, so I wasn't expecting any kind of gift, but he surprised me with a copy of Real Gone. Has any other gift had that much of an impact on the direction of my life? Well, it's hard to say. But without Tom Waits' influence - with his grit and melancholy and demented carnival style of going about music - I definitely would not write music in the way I do now. I have spent hours lying on the floor weeping - weeping!!! - at the knowledge that I may never write anything quite as perfect as "Grapefruit Moon." Or "Tom Traubert's Blues." Ugh, his music hurts me in such a beautiful way. Thank you, thank you Dude in His 30s. You can't possibly know how vital that gift was. 

So, Tom Waits. I have a tendency to listen to certain songs on repeat, over and over and over until they're etched into my brain, and "Please Call Me, Baby* was one of those. Here are the lyrics of the chorus:

Please call me baby, wherever you are

It's too cold to be out walking in the streets

We do crazy things when we're wounded

Everyone's a bit insane

I don't want you catching your death of cold

Out walking in the rain

During my initial flurry of songwriting in that rainy October of 2010, I decided to write a song in a bluesy style as a kind of response to "Please Call Me, Baby." Except the narrator is not interested in going home, nor is she repentant all. "Don't wait up, baby," she says, all sass and getting pie without her boyfriend. If I found out that Julien went and got pie without me? Well... It would be a lot worse for him than being out walking in the rain, let me tell you. At that time, not sharing dessert was maybe the worst relationship transgression I could think of. I guess that just goes to show how good I really have it.

This is my dad's favourite of all my tunes - it's the best to watch him raising his glass to the ceiling and singing along. Makes me feel like I made something good, even if he is biased in my favour. 

*Please support artists by purchasing their work. Thank you :)

© 2016 by Zoë Robertson. Photography by Robert Zbikowski and Vincent Fugere. Proudly created with Wix.com

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