Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle

One from the Heart stands as one of Hollywood's most famous disasters. Written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola as an "antidote" to his Apocalypse Now, it was his only musical and was almost universally panned upon its release in 1982. It vanished from theaters in less than two weeks, even though its soundtrack was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Score.

We'll leave the film review to others. But musically, lyrically, and conceptually, the soundtrack album is one of Tom Waits's finest statements. With a stellar studio band in tow, he produced a torch song cycle that touched on every nuance of love lost, found, and unattainable. He wrote beautiful melodies that can hold their own against the work of Hoagy Carmichael, Jimmy Van Heusen, and Cole Porter and married them to witty lyrics that eschew his penchant for rubbing our noses in the dark side of the American nightmare. He also sings without dropping into his usual growl/speak register, whispering his words in the soft tenor of a barroom drunk happy to expound upon the mysteries of existence; while Crystal Gayle is an unlikely duet partner, their coupling sounds as natural together as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The disc's digital remastering brings out every sparkling nuance in the music; it also includes a video of Waits and Gayle's duet, "This One's from the Heart."

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J. Poet