"Bad Liver and a Broken Heart (In Lowell)" as written by and Tom Waits....
Well I got a bad liver and broken heart, yeah,
I drunk me a river since you tore me apart
And I don't have a drinking problem, 'cept when I can't get a drink
And I wish you'd a-known her, we were quite a pair,
She was sharp as a razor and soft as a prayer
So welcome to the continuing saga, she was my better half, and I was just a dog
And so here am I slumped, I've been chipped and I've been chumped on my stool
So buy this fool some spirits and libations, it's these railroad station bars
And all these conductors and porters, and I'm all out of quarters
And this epitaph is the aftermath, yeah I choose my path, hey, come on, Kath,
He's a lawyer, he ain't the one for ya
No, the moon ain't romantic, it's intimidating as hell,
And some guy's trying to sell me a watch
And so I'll meet you at the bottom of a bottle of bargain Scotch
I got me a bottle and a dream, it's so maudlin it seems,
You can name your poison, go on ahead and make some noise
I ain't sentimental, this ain't a purchase, it's a rental, and it's purgatory,
And hey, what's your story, well I don't even care
Cause I got my own double-cross to bear

And I'll see your Red Label, and I'll raise you one more,
And you can pour me a cab, I just can't drink no more,
Cause it don't douse the flames that are started by dames,
It ain't like asbestos
It don't do nothing but rest us assured,
And substantiate the rumors that you've heard


Lyrics submitted by yuri_sucupira, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"Bad Liver and a Broken Heart" as written by Tom Waits

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Bad Liver and a Broken Heart (In Lowell) song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentThe opening piano riff is totally that "A Kiss is just a Kiss" song from Casablanca.
    kittenchowmeinon January 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti love this song its so great. i think its a little blunt to say its about alcoholism in fairness its about more than that. its about love and loss and i love his desciption of the person 'sharp as a razor and soft as a prayer' its just a great song altho i love all his stuff
    Limeylaineyon April 15, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe subtitle "(In Lowell)" is a reference to the city of Lowell, MA - the hometown and burial site of novelist Jack Kerouac, who died at the age of 47 due to cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis is, invariably, caused by alcoholism. Hence at least two parts of the title, "bad liver" and "in Lowell" are references to Kerouac.

    But I don't think the lyrics necessarily tell Kerouac's tale. Just the title, and overall tone of the song, describe Kerouac. Perhaps someone else can clarify that.
    tsreybon April 24, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about alcoholism.
    evildaveon April 14, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentdarn kittenchowmein, you beat me to the punch. I just logged in here to make the Casablanca connection. It is one helluva song .. sad, touching, pensive, from the heart.
    tsreybon April 16, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHe's drinking his sorrows away.
    MarcusHon January 09, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is, for me, one of the greatest pieces of art ever. It immediately puts me on a bar stool next the narrator. It is a dark and smokey bar (back in the days when you could actually smoke in bars.) It is very late or very early in the morning on a weeknight. And a relative stranger and a woman he came in with. Maybe you've been talking sports or current events with but over the course of the evening he's spoken to you and you've developed a friendship, He gets to the point where he needs to pour out his heart to someone and he turns to woman he's with and you get to hear the story of how he ended up on a bar stool at 3 a.m. and why he'll be back again tomorrow and the night after that He might share this story every night, or maybe he's never shared this story before. It starts with a fairly obvious confession that he is an alcoholic. But you've figured that out hours ago, you can tell from the wisdom and experience in his voice, from the yellow in his eyes and the hard life which he wears on his face. But he also confesses that he also has a broken heart, which may not be a surprise. But it goes on to be completely heartbreaking. I always heard it as "I got a bad liver and broken heart, I dunk me a river since you tore me apart," is a line that he says to the woman. She gets mad and leaves, and he sort of yells after her, "And I don't have a drinking problem," as if this is a source of tension in their relationship, but when she's out of earshot he says, "cept when I can't get a drink."
    And the rest of this amazing song is directed at you, that relative stranger next to him at the bar. And when he pleads, "Come on Kath, he's a lawyer, he ain't the one for ya," he's talking to her but she is not there. And when he gets to "Hey, What's your story?" he realizes that you are there and he's been talking to you and not Kath and he really doesn't care about your story. This is song is just an amazing vignette showing the sadness and honesty of a dark smokey late night small bar.The few bars of "As Time Goes By" are perfect call backs to the love triangle in Casablanca, as Rick is forced to let Isla because he loves her, just as our own friend lost his love Kath to the lawyer. I always hear that tune as playing in the bar where the narrator is telling the story. This song makes me weep and inspires me that someone like Tom Waits could take a simple tune and put words to it that so simply and powerfully tell a vivid and remarkable story in four minutes and 50 seconds.
    Kevogreon November 12, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgod dam that guy is amazing. I don't know how he does it. no one can have had so many experiences in one lifetime to inspire such feeling music. its really a mystery to me.
    gallus0566on February 13, 2014   Link

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