Tom Waits

Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis

Composed by Tom Waits

Song Review by

One of Tom Waits' most beloved songs from one of his more obscure albums, Blue Valentine, "Christmas Card..." is a live standard. The song showcases Waits playing a barroom piano melody, weaving words together -- in essence, doing what he does best in one long, bittersweet song. The lyrics are essentially a reading aloud of what the title says it is -- a Christmas card from a hooker in Minneapolis. Waits takes the voice of the female character: "Hey Charley, I'm pregnant..."; you can guess the rest. The song is littered with characters with names like Mario. There are references to the track, a filling station, and a used car lot. There is whiskey, dope, grease, a trombone, and Little Anthony & the Imperials. What more could you want from a Tom Waits song? By the year 2000, the song was finally recorded in the female voice by singer/songwriter Neko Case on the tribute to Waits, New Coat of Paint (Manifesto). Her fragile but tough delivery, accompanied by "church" organ gave the song a whole new kitschy, "hooker with a heart of gold" dimension.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Blue Valentine 1978 Elektra / Asylum 4:30
Cool Christmas 1995
Various Artists
Warner Bros.
Used Songs (1973-1980) 2001 Elektra / Rhino 4:31
blue highlight denotes editor's pick