Excuse me while I lapse into hyperbole. Foreign Affair is the best travel song ever written. There, I said it. It’s a song tragically overlooked on every “best travel song list” ever made, lists populated by the likes of Steppenwolf and John Denver no less. Tom Waits, the gravel-voiced auteur, poet, genius, adored by some, disparaged by others but nevertheless ultra-talented, the music hall-of-famer wrote into Foreign Affair what every other travel song could only wish to have: truth.
I highly recommend you read the lyrics first, then again while listening to the song, which is embedded below. In my opinion Foreign Affair successfully gets to the heart of the wanderlust spirit, a real understanding of the sublime ache every traveler experiences before, during and after their journeys.
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Have a great weekend everyone, and make sure to embrace your inner traveler, even if travel is not imminent. The temperament is quite necessary for a healthy spirit and life outlook no matter where you are.
Foreign Affair by Tom Waits
When traveling abroad in the continental style
it’s my belief one must attempt to be discreet,
and subsequently bear in mind your transient position
allows you a perspective that’s unique.
And though you’ll find your itinerary’s a blessing and a curse
your wanderlust won’t let you settle down
and you’ll wonder how you ever fathomed that you’d be content
to stay within the city limits of a small Midwestern town.
Most vagabonds I knowed don’t ever want to find the culprit
that remains the object of their long relentless quest.
The obsession’s in the chasing and not the apprehending
the pursuit you see and never the arrest.
Without fear of contradiction bon voyage is always hollered
in conjunction with a handkerchief from shore
by a girl that drives a rambler and furthermore
is overly concerned that she won’t see him anymore
planes and trains and boats and buses
characteristically evoke a common attitude of blue
unless you have a suitcase and a ticket and a passport
and the cargo that they’re carrying is you.
A foreign affair juxtaposed with a stateside
and domestically approved romantic fancy
is mysteriously attractive due to circumstances knowing
it will only be parlayed into a memory.
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Photo source: SF Gate