Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis

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"Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis"
Song by Tom Waits
from the album Blue Valentine
ReleasedSeptember 1978
RecordedJuly 24 – August 26, 1978
StudioFilmways/Heider Recording
Hollywood, California
GenreJazz, blues
Songwriter(s)Tom Waits
Producer(s)Bones Howe

"Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" is a song written and performed by Tom Waits, released on his 1978 album Blue Valentine.[1]


"Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" has been described as a "laconic first-person sketch".[1] The song's lyrics narrate a letter written by a prostitute to a man named Charlie. She reveals that she is pregnant, says she has quit alcohol and drugs, describes her current living circumstances (including her stable relationship with a new husband who promises to raise her arriving baby like he would his own son), and outlines the better choices she would make if she "still had all the money we used to spend on dope". At the song's conclusion, the author confesses to Charlie that she has been lying to him; she does not have a husband, is currently serving time in prison, and will be eligible for parole on Valentine's Day.


Live performances[edit]

In the late 1970s, Waits often performed "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" as a medley with "Goin' Out Of My Head," originally recorded by Little Anthony & the Imperials, and "Silent Night," the popular Christmas carol.[2]

For a performance in New York on November 21, 1985, Waits introduced the song with the following anecdote:

I was in Minneapolis – it was 200 degrees below zero – I know, you think I'm bullshitting, no, I swear to God, I was wearing just a bra and a slip and a kind of dead squirrel around my neck – he was colder than I was. The police cars would go by and they'd wave... merry Xmas, merry Xmas, merry Xmas... anyway, I got caught in the middle of a pimp war between two kids in Chinchilla coats, they couldn't have been more than 13 years old. They're throwing knives and forks and spoons out into the street – it was deep – so I grabbed a ladle, and Dinah Washington was singing "Our Day Will Come" and I knew that was it.[2]


Denise Sullivan, writing for AllMusic, described "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" as "[o]ne of Tom Waits' most beloved songs from one of his more obscure albums... The song showcases Waits playing a barroom piano melody, weaving words together -- in essence, doing what he does best in one long, bittersweet song."[3]

Cover versions[edit]

"Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" has been covered by a number of notable bands and artists, including Interzone in 1981, Magnapop in 1995 for Step Right Up: The Songs of Tom Waits, Kacey Jones in 2000, Wolfgang Ambros in 2000, David Broza in 2001, and Aslan in 2005.[2] Neko Case's cover version, featured on the Tom Waits tribute album New Coat of Paint (2002), received critical praise. Denise Sullivan, writing for AllMusic, wrote that "her fragile but tough delivery, accompanied by "church" organ gave the song a whole new kitschy, "hooker with a heart of gold" dimension."[3]


  1. ^ a b Blue Valentine track listing – Tom Waits Official Website – accessed May 31, 2010
  2. ^ a b c "Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis" lyrics – Tom Waits Library – accessed October 7, 2016
  3. ^ a b Sullivan, Denise. "Tom Waits: Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2021-12-10. Retrieved 2021-12-10.