Martha

Album: Closing Time (1973)

Songfacts®:

  • This song centers around a telephone conversation between an elderly man, Tom Frost, and an old flame.

    Hello, hello there, is this Martha?
    This is old Tom Frost, and I'm calling long distance. Don't worry 'bout the cost
    Cause it's been 40 years or more, now Martha please recall
    Meet me out for coffee, where we'll talk about it all.


    It's been four decades since they last spoke so Tom Frost is hoping his former girlfriend will remember him.
  • Tim Buckley, who was better known than Tom Waits at the time, covered this the same year on his album Sefronia. It was the first ever cover of a Waits' song by a known artist. Other singers that have recorded versions of "Martha" include Bette Midler in 1979 on Saturday Night Live and Meat Loaf in 1995 on Welcome to the Neighborhood.
  • Adele's 2015 single "Hello" includes the lyric: "Hello, it's me. I was wondering if after all these years. You'd like to meet, to go over everything." Commentators called out the lyrical similarities between the English songstress' hit tune and "Martha" with some alleging that it ripped off Waits' song.

    "Hello" co-writer Greg Kurstin told Entertainment Weekly that Waits' material was a conscious touchstone for the song, saying said: "She didn't want to just go through and write a pop song with any particular formula. We talked about Tom Waits, and different storytellers like that."
  • Other artists that have recorded songs about a girl named Martha include:

    The Beatles "Martha My Dear"

    The Allman Brothers Band "Little Martha"

    Smashing Pumpkins "For Martha"

    Jefferson Airplane "Martha"

    Rufus Wainwright "Martha"

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