It’s early morning. A man is stealing out of the house, leaving a woman sleeping.
He’s dressed in railroad boots and a leather jacket. That’s all he needs.
Feeling his way in the dark, he passes some broken wind chimes.
Outside, he takes a scarf off the clothes line.
He curses the rain. The goddamn rain.
That’s it. That’s Ruby’s Arms.
Half a dozen details that break your heart. The woman’s heart is already broken.
It’s Tom Waits’ song, but it’s sung here by Patti Griffin. Beautifully. I know: this is always subjective, but it’s my favourite version. Not least because Patti utterly swerves the convention that a story told from a male point of view should be sung by a man.
It doesn’t matter a good goddamn. I dunno why. I’m not even going to offer a theory. I don’t want to break the spell. If anyone in the hive mind can explain, please leave a comment.
I do think I know where and how and why this song breaks hearts. Put it down to the details, but there's also that vocal leap again, cursing the goddamn rain.
That’s the whole story. Right there.