Waits on Jesus

What follows are the lyrics to Tom Waits’ remarkable song Way Down in a Hole. The genius here, I think, is that he sings/talks with perfect sincerity, and yet, you suspect that may be, and probably is, entirely insincere. But only probably. Precisely the way to present religion in a post-Christian age? An even better version comes as the second song on this concert recording. Thanks to the Not-Ted for the heads up.

When you walk through the garden
you gotta watch your back
well I beg your pardon
walk the straight and narrow track
if you walk with Jesus
he’s gonna save your soul
you gotta keep the devil
way down in the hole
he’s got the fire and the fury
at his command
well you don’t have to worry
if you hold on to Jesus hand
we’ll all be safe from Satan
when the thunder rolls
just gotta help me keep the devil
way down in the hole
All the angels sing about Jesus’ mighty sword
and they’ll shield you with their wings
and keep you close to the lord
don’t pay heed to temptation
for his hands are so cold
you gotta help me keep the devil
way down in the hole.


  1. When I listen to Tom Waits, for some reason I always picture some late 50’s dark psychedelic cartoon with extra slapstick. There’s no dialogue. It’s just visual wierdness. I’m probably alone in this.

    By the way, my favorite Tom Waits performance is still probably his role as a weapons developer in Mystery Men.

  2. M. Swaim,

    My vote goes for Rudy in Ironweed (as I imagine our Albany boy might agree…)


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