Listen to this track by gravel-throated singer-songwriter and consummate storytelling force of nature Tom Waits. It’s “Alice”, as taken from the self-same 2002 album of the same name, Alice. The track is a wintry tale of love and obsession, and ultimately of destruction too, all set to the kind of late-night jazz sound for which Waits had become known many years before in the 1970s, and to which this track is arguably something of a return.
The record is the result of a theatrical production that Waits, and his wife and collaborator Kathleen Brennan, had worked on with playwright Robert Wilson. It was a stage production based on the supposed relationship between Alice Liddel and Lewis Carroll, who would eventually write Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking-Glass, with Liddel as his muse.
But, how does what Lewis Carroll’s muse inspired translate into Tom Waits’ song, and the album on which it’s the opening track?