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Martha Lyrics

Operator, number please, it's been so many years
Will she remember my old voice while I fight the tears?
Hello, hello there, is this Martha? This is old Tom Frost
And I am calling long distance, don't worry about the cost
Because it's been forty years or more, now Martha please recall
Meet me out for coffee, where we'll talk about it all

And those were the days of roses, poetry and prose
And Martha all I had was you and all you had was me
There was no tomorrows, we'd packed away our sorrows
And we saved them for a rainy day

And I feel so much older now, and you're much older too
How's your husband, and how's the kids? You know that I got married too
Lucky that you found someone to make you feel secure
Because we were all so young and foolish, now we are mature

And those were the days of roses, poetry and prose
And Martha all I had was you and all you had was me
There was no tomorrows, we'd packed away our sorrows
And we saved them for a rainy day

And I was always so impulsive, I guess that I still am
And all that really mattered then was that I was a man
I guess that our being together was never meant to be
And Martha, Martha, I love you can't you see?

And those were the days of roses, poetry and prose
And Martha all I had was you and all you had was me
There was no tomorrows, we'd packed away our sorrows
And we saved them for a rainy day

And I remember quiet evenings trembling close to you . . .
29 Meanings
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Duke Special did a great job! But I cannot agree that it's better and has more feeling than Tom's. I give them credit, it was well done and true to the original! But there is a feeling on Tom's original (and the whole "Closing Time" album) that no one can duplicate. Not even Tom, because he sings so different now. There is something so profound in his first album that is totally unique next to everything else. It's one of the most beautiful albums ever...words can't do it justice. Oddly enough, Tom (according to quotes I've read) seems to think he sounded like everyone else then, and later found his own style...he all but puts down the first album. However, while his later stuff is great, when I heard Captain Beefheart, I was kinda bummed to notice that Tom didn't exactly make up his own style after all. (But kudos to Beefheart, and I still love Tom's new music too, and think he's excellent! And when he does ballads these days, they can be just as tender as Martha.)

My Opinion
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For me, it's Martha who says the last line and not old Tom Frost. The song only makes sense, to me, if it's Martha who says this.

The last line is in response to Tom putting his feelings to her. I imagine Tom spilling his guts out, a silence as he waits for her to say something, anything, then she says this line and more silence.....it puts shivers down my spine!

I think, Martha saying this adds more layers and questions to the song - she remembers her time with Tom dearly and has obviously thought about their time a lot too. But she does not tell him she loves him. He broke her heart ("All that really mattered then was that I was a man") and the more he has lived the more this has haunted him to the point that he called. Perhaps it's guilt and not love and Martha recognises this.

The reason I think this (apart from the above!) is that an ex of mine had to move away for a few months while we were going out. She used to write me letters and always signed them with the last line from this song. From that point onwards I realised this was Martha talking.

My Interpretation

@FourSheetstotheWind Very astute. The story does come full circle if the last line was Martha's. And it gives the song even more poignancy.

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Is it just me or is this song one of the best songs ever written?? It truley is Amazing!

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I know someday I will be doing this, if I ever get to that age.

Now it's just about finding out who will I be calling.

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Amazing. I love it

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when i listen to this, i always think, "this realy has to be your fave song!" the best sad lovesong, ever!

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this is great. amazing, yeah, like you said.

tom waits' voice inspires me to fight all the problems we have in this bastard life. martha is a beautiful song.

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Possibly the saddest song ever written. Difficult to even hear it without crying...

Takes me back to the guy I fell for because (back then) he also loved Tom Waits. We listened to this song a lot, and I always suspected that we would somehow NOT end up together, and that someday I would hear "Martha" and think of calling him.

I was right.

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Truly magnificent !!!!!!!!!!

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And those were the days of roses, poetry and prose And Martha all I had was you and all you had was me. There was no tomorrows, we'd packed away our sorrows And we saved them for a rainy day.

I want to write & compose as geniously as this man

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