Playin’ the Free Association game…… or whatever you call that, when one person says a word and the other person immediately answers with the first word they think of. There have been several times (tonight most recently) when I’ve had the Tom Waits’ song “Martha” stuck in my head and almost simultaneously followed it with thoughts of Charles Bukowski and U2. Humor me along a little trip…

Let’s start with “Martha” …for some reason I hear this song and like to imagine that it’s based on some poem called “Days of Wine and Roses” by Bukowski, except that I don’t think he ever wrote such a poem. But I know that other singers have used his lines as lyrics – take, for example, the U2 number “Dirty Day” with the fading lines straight from a Bukowski title.

So of course I turn to everyone’s favorite search engine and do a search on “Days of Wine and Roses” plus “Bukowski”… what should I find but an interview with Matt Dillon talking about his latest role – as Bukowski – and (whoa, get this) comparing his film to the film (drumroll) “Days of Wine and Roses” – !! Mind you, I have not seen or heard of either film up until the discovery of said interview. The “Days” movie turns out to be a movie about alcoholics, thus the sad connection to Bukowski.

But it doesn’t stop there! The title of the movie – “Days of Wine and Roses” – IS based on a poem!!

Not a Bukowski poem… predates him by over fifty years, actually. Lovely anyway.

(The brevity of life forbids us to entertain hopes of long duration.)
by Ernest Dowson, 1896

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate;
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate. –
They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream. – –

“Martha” by Tom Waits

” Those were days of roses,
of poetry and prose and
Martha, all you had was me
and I all I had was you.
There were no tomorrows,
we packed away our sorrows
and saved them for a rainy day.”

Oh, and found this, too, while searching (something about the words “wine” and “roses” seems to draw them together over and over):

‘Drink wine… This is life eternal… This is all that youth will give you… It is the season for wine, roses and drunken friends… Be happy for this moment… This moment is your life.’

From: sixty-nine stanzas by Omar Khayyam
adapted, altered, and otherwise rearranged
for musical accompaniment
by Len Bracken