Tom Waits is probably the only person who can get away with rhyming ‘Mississippi’ with ‘she sure was kippy’ (or ‘Toledo’ with ‘she sure was neato’) and still maintain both his bad ass coolness, as well as his status of being an amazing songwriter. Not too many others could get away with it.
I remember the first time I heard this song. My friend was playing it on guitar, and since I had never heard the song before —and after hearing the ‘kippy’ line— I just assumed my friend had wrote it. Not because my friend has ever used the word ‘kippy’ before. He is just the kind of guy that would probably have trouble coming up with a word that rhymes with ‘Mississippi’.
But when I congratulated him on writing a class song, he told me that it was a Waits song. When I finally tracked the tune down —if you're looking to track it down, you'll have to go way back to ‘The Early Years’— I was surprised at how lovely Tom's version was. I guess I was expecting to stumble upon a version that was a lot darker and more scarred from cigarettes and whiskey, but I guess that's just because I was currently listening to ‘Real Gone' era Waits.