Ruby's Arms by Tom Waits

The following is quoted from "Kazuo Ishiguro's Nobel lecture" delivered in Stockholm on 7 December 2017.

"Then, as I say, there I was, in our house one evening, on our sofa, listening to Tom Waits. And Tom Waits began to sing a song called 'Ruby's Arms'. Perhaps some of you know it.

It's a ballad about a man, possibly a soldier, leaving his lover asleep in bed. It's the early morning, he goes down the road, gets on a train. Nothing unusual in that. But the song is delivered in the voice of a gruff American hobo utterly unaccustomed to revealing his deeper emothins.

And there comes a moment, midway through the song, when the singer tells us that his heart is breaking. The moment is almost unbearably moving because the sentiment itself and the huge resistance that's obviously been overcome to declare it.

Tom Waits sings the line with cathartic magnificence, and you feel a lifetime of toughguy stoicism crumbling in the face of overwhelming sadness.

As I listened to Tom Waits, I realised what I'd still left to do...."