One from the heart

Jul 2, 2010

The world seems divided on Tom Waits between those who think he’s great and those who think he’s a genius. I don’t subscribe to either camp. Although I admire his single-mindedness and disregard for fads and trends, his affected, increasingly-gruff-over-the-years voice can irritate.

Yet saying that, the soundtrack he recorded for the 1982 film “One from the heart” is quite magnificent. Back in 1981 he hadn’t completely adopted his “deep voice” persona. The songs have a timeless beauty to them, some graced with the gorgeous voice of the gorgeous Crystal Gayle. When the film was released I paid some stupid price to get an imported LP of the soundtrack which I played repeatedly. Of course as it was an american pressing the quality of the disc was diabolical with hisses and clicks during the quieter parts. It was one of the few records I was pleased to duplicate with a CD version (although the CD ought to have had a few more “extras” for the money).

As for the “One from the heart” film, it was a sprawling over-long mess. Why on earth did the director, Francis Ford Coppola, feel the need to spend $$$thousands on a stage-set of Las Vegas when he could just have gone there and started filming ???  Terri Garr was in the film though as a consolation. Conclusion: Film 3 out of 10. Soundtrack CD 9 out of 10.

2 Responses to “One from the heart”

  1. Dave White Says:


    Upon its release I saw One From The Heart at the local art-house cinema and loved it. Yes, it was flawed (and it was the director’s great folly, in fact, as his Zoetrope Studio was bankrupted making it) but it was very definitely ‘from the heart’ and unlike anything else in popular cinema at the time. It has a warmth to it that helps marks it out as an incredibly personal work. The soundtrack is marvelous, of course, and it is well placed in a long and honorable lineage of film musicals – a form of cinematic storytelling that can be quite magical when done well. I think Coppola offered us something that harked back to the glamorous age of such studio musicals while being very much of its time. I think it was brave and truly artistic of him to make it and as a film and music fan, I appreciated the risk he took. While it backfired on him, materially, I don’t suppose he regrets having made it.

  2. Yes the film certainly had an “otherworldly” feel to it and was completely unlike any film I’ve seen before or since. Listening to the soundtrack this week has made me wonder what came first. The music or the plot. Did they make the film to fit Tom’s songs or was it the other way round. They mesh together so well. The DVD is currently only £2.99 on Amazon. Bargain.

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