“The Fall of Troy” is a haunting song by Tom Waits that explores the rippling aftermath of a horrific crime, without ever directly referencing the crime itself. Through evocative lyrics delivered in his gravelly voice, Waits paints a portrait of grief, loss, and pondering what could have been.
While details are sparse, there are hints of a murder or similar tragedy impacting two families. Waits sings from the perspective of the perpetrator’s family, referencing “the wings of a crow” and “leaving home” – possible allusions to execution or imprisonment.
Most poignantly, the chorus repeats “Oh how we dreamed, of the fall of Troy” – drawing parallels to the legendary ancient city where one act of violence led to a devastating decade-long war. Waits suggests a similar cascading effect on multiple families wrecked by the actions of one person.
Yet there are glimmers of hope as Waits sings “may we live to see the day.” He seems to acknowledge that while the damage can never fully be undone, there is still potential for healing, forgiveness, and redemption someday.
Waits avoids casting clear judgements or revealing motivations. Instead, he humanizes the pain of those left behind struggling to cope with the enormity of what occurred.
The song illustrates Waits’ talent for evoking haunting stories through carefully chosen words and delivery. While ambiguous, “The Fall of Troy” carries a weighty message about the far-reaching trauma of crime, and the fragility of dreams for those affected.