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Ask a gin-soaked troubadour 

When looking for romantic advice, who better than Tom Waits?

Tom Waits has forgotten more about love and loss than any of us could ever experience in our lifetime. Nobody has been there and done that more than the ultimate gin-soaked troubadour, who rolls into the Tabernacle for a sold-out show.

A true iconoclast, Waits has carved a niche for himself as the supreme music hipster with such landmark albums as Heartattack and Vine and Franks Wild Years, and gutter-level songs like "The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)" and "Jockey Full of Bourbon." The latter song opens the 1986 Jim Jarmusch film Down by Law, which helped kick-start the two-time Grammy winner's acting career of playing lowlifes.

So why, after all these years, didn't he put all that wisdom to use, in an advice column that with his lyrics alone would rival the advice of "Ask Amy"?

Here would be but a few examples of his pearls:

Dear Gin-Soaked Troubadour,

I recently relocated from Denver to New York City to work for a top accounting firm. I commute from Brooklyn, where the dating scene is really strange. I just don't understand the women here. What's your take on them?

-- Irving

Dear Irving,

"The downtown trains are full with all of those Brooklyn girls/They try so hard to break out of their little worlds.

"Well, you wave your hand and they scatter like crows/They have nothing that will ever capture your heart/They're just thorns without the rose/Be careful of them in the dark."

("Downtown Train," from Rain Dogs, 1985)

Dear Gin-Soaked Troubadour,

I just want to let you know how awesome I think you are. I read your column every week, and share your wisdom with the other secretaries in my office. One of my co-workers seems to have lost her faith in men and the ability to commit. How has monogamy shaped your relationships?

-- Teri

Dear Teri,

"I lit a wooden match; I let it all burn down/I've broken every rule; I've wrecked it all down/There are no words in the wind, the trees are all bare/Life's mean as a needle; but why should I care?/A good man is hard to find/Only strangers sleep in my bed/My favorite words are goodbye/And my favorite color is red/I always play Russian Roulette in my head/It's 17 black and 29 red/How far from the gutter; how far from the pew/I'll always remember to forget about you."

("A Good Man Is Hard to Find," from Blood Money, 2002)

Dear Gin-Soaked Troubadour,

My wife thinks I drink too much. I remember you once saying, "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a pre-frontal lobotomy." What do I tell her when I come home drunk and she starts hassling me about it?

-- Frank

Dear Frank,

"I've got a feeling that the piano has been drinking/It's just a hunch/The piano has been drinking/and he's going to lose his lunch/And the piano has been drinking/Not me, not me/the piano has been drinking not me, not me, not me, not me."

("The Piano Has Been Drinking [Not Me]," from Small Change, 1976)

Dear Gin-Soaked Troubadour,

I don't get your column sometimes. I mean, where do you get off telling people how to improve their love life? When I want romantic advice, I want someone who's been there. I want life experience. What have you done that I haven't? In other words, why should I trust you?

-- Fred

Dear Fred,

"Because I slept with the lions and Marilyn Monroe/Had breakfast in the eye of a hurricane/Fought Rocky Marciano, played Minnesota Fats/Burned hundred-dollar bills/I eaten Mulligan stew, got drunk with Louis Armstrong/What's that old song?/I taught Mickey Mantle everything that he knows."

("Jitterbug Boy," from Small Change, 1976)

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