December 07, 2003

I go looking in other people's songs for their sailors and their towns. I don't know, everybody has things that they gravitate towards. Some people put toy cars or clouds or cat crap. Everybody puts something different, and it's entirely up to you what belongs and what doesn't. They're interesting little vessels of emotional information, and you carry them in your pocket like a bagel. Today is the birthday of one Tom Waits. Go check out his most recent albumns, read an interview, or try to figure out when the next Waitstock is. Better yet, slump on down to your nearest dive and drink till you feel pretty.
  • Tom Waits is my God. May he live for another gazillion years, slowly getting more gravelly-voiced and hella cool all the time.
  • Wonderful link, Spooky. I'm gonna turn off this machine, feed my kitty, drink some scotch and play my vinyl "One From the Heart" soundtrack.
  • I too worship at the bourbon soaked altar of TW.
  • Hmm, well, earlier in the trek up the threads, we established that I did not like The Goonies. I also have never cared much for Tom Waits--at least his singing voice, though his songs have sometimes been very interesting thematically. Understanding that my dislike for the Goonies and Tom Waits must be coming from two very different places (unless there is something fundamentally wrong with the very fabric of the universe) I am open to re-aquainting myself with Tom Waits. So the obvious question is what album or other works to check out? (And don't say Mystery Men!)
  • Today on the way to work, I listened to Foreign Affairs. On the way home, I listened to Real Gone (which is more full of awesomeness the more I listen to it, btw -- the guitar on "Hoist That Rag" is pure sex on a biscuit). It amazes me how he's developed as a musician. Some of his albums are masterpieces. If only the old bastard would tour again. I'd give my firstborn for a chance to see him live.
  • Swordfishtrombones has become my favorite of late. If you haven't heard it, definitely check out Closing Time, his first album, for a different, much sweeter, version of his singing voice. Bone Machine is probably the album I'd pick if I could only have one, although Small Change would be a contender too. One of the things that always amazes me about Waits is how prolific he's been: I'd never even heard of the two albums mct mentioned, and I've been a fan for over a decade. And yes, the range of his work over the thirty-odd years he's been recording is incredible. Oh, and I won't say Mystery Men (though I enjoy the hell out of it). But do see Down By Law.
  • You're innocent when you dream. Just saying.
  • Nighthawks at the Diner, BearGuy. Nighthawks at the Diner. awww yeah
  • I like the early stuff, particularly Small Change and Blue Valentines, but he didn't really begin to really flourish as a musician until Swordfishtrombones, Frank's Wild Years and Rain Dogs. Don't get me wrong, he did good stuff before, but until he married Kathleen Brennan and started producing his own records, he was operating in two dimensions. Of course, two dimensions for him is fourteen for most, but still. Compared to the songs he's written in the past decade or so, the really old stuff like "Martha" or "Grapefruit Moon" is practically remedial songwriting. He has said in interviews that he can't hardly stand to listen to much of it. fractalid, if you like his latter-day, more experimental stuff (Bone Machine or Blood Money or Alice), then Real Gone, his latest album, is definitely worth a listen. It took me awhile to get into, which is often the case for me when he takes a new direction, but there is some solid platinum in those tunes.
  • I think the thing that amazes me about him is that he's one of a very few artistic geniuses who isn't a total asshole, but really seems to be a genuinely good guy. He got a little too friendly with booze early on, but that was pretty much it. He's faithful to his wife, takes his kids on field trips, quit touring to spend more time with his family, never acts like a prick in public, and is completely humble and hard working, yet his influence in music is as pervasive as nearly any American musician ever born.
  • Happy Birthday! In honor of this day, match your compatibility with Tom Waits. Sadly, I am only 32%. Even though I really like whiskey and hookers and despair and gospel tunes and murder and old jackets and good shoes and Latino gang warfare.