Tom Waits can be an acquired taste. Listening to his music is a little like getting used to whiskey. It’s difficult at first, but you learn to appreciate the subtleties. Pretty soon it’s all you order.
In “Long way home”, Waits hits a familiar cord when he says,
“I put food on the table
And roof overhead
But I’d trade it all tomorrow
For the highway instead
Watch your back if I should tell you
Love’s the only thing I’ve ever known
One thing for sure pretty baby I always take the long way home”
I think he is talking about a feeling that is common to motorcyclists. It’s that desire to see what’s up around the corner. It’s the feeling that a better stretch of road is just over the horizon, and it pulls you. It pulls you.
However, you know you’ll never really go, because the most important part of you knows you belong at home. You’re invested there. It’s where your love is. So you make the compromise. You take the long way home.
Norah Jones does a great cover of this song. I kinda fell in love where her creamy-smooth performance the first time I heard it.