|Song by Tom Waits from the album Blue Valentine|
|Recorded||July 24 - August 26, 1978, at Filmways/Heider Recording, Hollywood, CA|
"I used to walk down Kentucky Avenue collecting cigarette butts. And I finally got me a paper route. I used to get up at 1 o' clock in the morning so I could deliver my papers and still have time to break the law..."
Many of the song's lyrics relate to real people in Waits' childhood. "Mrs. Storm" was a neighbour who would sit with a twelve-gauge shotgun protruding from her kitchen window. Perhaps the strongest autobiographical influence was Waits' childhood friend, a boy named Kipper, who suffered from polio and used a wheelchair. In 1981, Waits elaborated on these memories:
"I didn't understand what polio was. I just knew it took him longer to get to the bus stop than me... Sometimes I think kids know more than anybody. I rode a train once to Santa Barbara with this kid and it almost seemed like he lived a life somewhere before he was born and he brought what he knew with him into this world and so... it's what you don't know that's usually more interesting. Things you wonder about, things you have yet to make up your mind about. There's more to deal with than just your fundamental street wisdom. Dreams. Nightmares."
The song's closing moments include the line "we'll hop that freight train in the hall." This refers to one of Waits' earliest childhood memories, in which he would imagine that, every night, a freight train would run through the centre of his house.
Music critic Adrian Denning described "Kentucky Avenue" as "a welcome piano ballad on an album very short on piano."
- Blue Valentine track listing - Tom Waits Official Website - accessed June 1, 2010
- "Kentucky Avenue" lyrics - Tom Waits Library - accessed June 1, 2010
- BBC's "Tonight in Person" TV show. July 26, 1979
- "Live at the Apollo Theatre, London, UK. March 23, 1976.
- "Tom Waits: Waits And Double Measures," Smash Hits magazine. Interview by: Johnny Black. March 18, 1981.
- "One From The Heart & One For The Road." New Musical Express magazine. Interview by: Kristine McKenna. October 1, 1983
- "MTV's The Cutting Edge Limo Interview" - The Best of the Cutting Edge, Volume II, 1987
- Blue Valentine review - Adrian Denning's album reviews - accessed June 1, 2010