"Alice" as written by and Kathleen Brennan Tom Waits....
It's dreamy weather we're on
You waved your crooked wand
Along an icy pond with a frozen moon
A murder of silhouette crows I saw
And the tears on my face
And the skates on the pond
They spell Alice

I disappear in your name
But you must wait for me
Somewhere across the sea
There's a wreck of a ship
Your hair is like meadow grass on the tide
And the raindrops on my window
And the ice in my drink
Baby all I can think of is Alice

Arithmetic, arithmetock
Turn the hands back on the clock
How does the ocean rock the boat?
How did the razor find my throat?
The only strings that hold me here
Are tangled up around the pier

And so a secret kiss
Brings madness with the bliss
And I will think of this
When I'm dead in my grave
Set me adrift and I'm lost over there
And I must be insane
To go skating on your name
And by tracing it twice
I fell through the ice
Of Alice

And so a secret kiss
Brings madness with the bliss
And I will think of this
When I'm dead in my grave
Set me adrift and I'm lost over there
And I must be insane
To go skating on your name
And by tracing it twice
I fell through the ice
Of Alice
There's only Alice


Lyrics submitted by merchantpierce

Alice song meanings
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20 Comments

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  • +6
    General CommentI've always thought of this song as Lewis Carroll thinking about Alice Liddel. It's part of a musical Tom Waits wrote about Alice in Wonderland, I think, and it makes some sense. The "arithmetic" part could be a reference to Dogdson's career as a mathematician. Later on the CD, Alice replies in "I'm Still Here." A lot of the images are the same. The frozen pond and the broken watch, for example.

    I remember reading somewhere that Alice Liddell gave a speech on Lewis Carroll and in it she mentioned that he would go ice skating with her and one time he fell and broke his watch. Makes sense when you look at the pair of songs, and the "arithmetok" thing. There seems to be a fascination with time, maybe because of the age difference. And "Wait for me" sounds like something a lover would say. As in "Wait until you're old enough."

    I don't know if this makes sense or not. But the song really feels a lot like Charles' Dogdson's obsession with Alice. It's a wonderful song.
    lixtetraxon March 17, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment"And by tracing it twice / I fell through the ice / of Alice..."

    I have to stop whatever I'm doing whenever this song comes on. Waits' imagery is haunting yet magical here. It took a while for me to really get into Waits, but I'm a true fan now. This song I think displays a high point in his song-writing abilities.
    clinton August 25, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIts dreamy song were on.
    So beautiful.
    One of his best songs imo.
    Its so good it sounds like it could be an old classic from the 40's. Comparable to Louis Armstrong.
    ThomBjork225on June 27, 2009   Link
  • +1
    Song Meaning"How did the razor find my throat?" - At first I assumed that this meant a razor cutting a throat, but I've been thinking it could be referring to shaving; as in somehow finding motivation to continuine performing mundane tasks like shaving even though he's going through a deep state of depression.

    Any thoughts?
    Alien241on March 11, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionThis song is about obsession/paedophilia and yes the Dodgson (aka Lewis Carrol) / Alice Liddell affair is the vehicle we travel in. ' To go skating on your name And by tracing it twice' is an obvious metaphor for writing the 2 books Alice (in wonderland) and Alice (through the looking glass).
    'The only strings that hold me here Are tangled up around the pier' tell us his obsession is unconsumated because of taboo.
    'A murder of silhouette, crows I saw' Waits brilliantly paints the landscape parralleling his own demise with the totally correct collective noun for the carion bird . Is this also a metaphor for Dodgson the photographer (all black and white in those days) or maybe Dodgson the deacon. The crows being the black garb of his associates, priests carrion to his soul perhaps?
    So where does Waits go to when he falls through the ice in Al ICE's name. Well Alice goes to Wonderland when she falls down the rabbit hole but I think Waits here goes to Dreamland. You know the place in Coney Island where TableTop Joe hangs out. It is after all dreamy weather we are on.
    MisterMaestosoon August 12, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Comment...riiight. :|

    Anyway, this is a really amazing song of lost love. Great lyrics.
    6th_sadistic_sniperon September 28, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentoh the mood I get in listening to this song,,,,!
    MardyAsson October 17, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe album of ALice is was actually written (the musci was) for a German play about Charles Dogdson aka Lewis Caroll, and his pedapheliac lust for Alice Liddell. This song in perticular is startsthe theatricle play with Dodgsen recalling and longing for Liddell.
    GreenAndyon March 24, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwell, at least, i'd hate to think he did. it would be like finding out that someone you've always considered flawless is only human...euch. none of that. anyway, i'm ranting. i'll stop now haha
    !jay!on April 19, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI really have nothing relevant to add except in my own opinion this is Waits' best song. The atmosphere is haunting and majestic. Also Tom's lyrics are entrancing.
    PortableSlappyon August 24, 2007   Link

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