Tom Waits

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That sounds like every bar in the Hamden neighborhood of Baltimore. If you have seen John Waters' Hairspray or Cry Baby you know the area...

Bill
 

Pogue Mahone

Officials say drugs may have played a part
Nighthawks is my favorite. It's too bad Waits seems embarrased about it now. I'd love a release of the whole two-night stand.
 

hoochmonkey9

Art should be its own hammer.
Moderator
Founding member
I love Nighthawks... also, but I can see why he might be embarrassed by it. It's a very affected performance but that's one of the reasons it works for me.
 

Pogue Mahone

Officials say drugs may have played a part
I'm an early Waits fan, so I getta lot of shit for not liking (as much) Rain Dogs and everyting that came after for a while. But I do love "Get Behind the Mule."
 
@BukFan Brad Have you ever heard Magnapop do a great version of "Big Joe.."? But I cant find it youtube.
No, will keep an eye out for it. What little I know about 'Big Joe' is that the lyrics were originally written by a chap named 'Red Sovine', Tom Waits credits him as being the one who penned the lyrics. I love folklore, ghost stories, and so when this song gets played I can't help but get out the lyrics and read along. Superb atmosphere!

My cousin sent me 'Rain Dogs', 'Pogue Mahone', some years ago but it doesn't grab me as well as some of his other albums.

Here's a favourite song of mine:

[This video is unavailable.]

I can only blame my muso brother for getting me into Tom Waits when, some years back while making a long distance call to him late one night, I asked him if he knew any musicians who played music that had a 'rustic' feel to it? He said 'have you heard of Tom Waits?' 'I said 'no, what's he like?'. He said 'Imagine some guy out on a farm somewhere and who's decided to start making music by banging some rusty old tools out in his barn, that's what it sounds like!' I thought 'Shit, I need to check this guy out!' ;-)
 

Pogue Mahone

Officials say drugs may have played a part
I respect his post-70s stuff a lot, but it just wasn't my thing. Until "Get Behind the Mule" came out and I loved the shit out of that one. But since then, I think he's his own worst enemy. He's become an "artist" instead of a musician. He knows that in order to be successful, you need to be an entertainer in addition to being a musician. But he's swapped being an entertainer for being an "artist" who has become very hard to listen to at times. I love the guy and I do not blame the Yoko factor, but if he wants me to buy something and not regret it, than he needs to stop being such an "artist" and get back to making music that non-artists may actually enjoy.
 
I respect his post-70s stuff a lot, but it just wasn't my thing. Until "Get Behind the Mule" came out and I loved the shit out of that one. But since then, I think he's his own worst enemy. He's become an "artist" instead of a musician. He knows that in order to be successful, you need to be an entertainer in addition to being a musician. But he's swapped being an entertainer for being an "artist" who has become very hard to listen to at times. I love the guy and I do not blame the Yoko factor, but if he wants me to buy something and not regret it, than he needs to stop being such an "artist" and get back to making music that non-artists may actually enjoy.
Like Bukowski and Crumb, Tom Waits likes to be different, he likes to be an outsider. And there's a good chance that he has always been an artist first and foremost, with the commercial entity following behind him. It takes a prescient genius to get the balance right, to get that harmony between making money from what you enjoy doing whilst also being innovative and cutting new turf with your art.

From a fan's pov, like you, I love his older music, it holds a certain nostalgia. From an artist's pov (who can only cut it as a hobby), I can appreciate his desire to be experimental, to break new ground, make new discoveries. I'm sure he must get loads of fans coming up to him and saying 'what happened to your music? Why do you play like you do now?' And he's probably thinking in his head - well, that was me back then, this is me now! And I get tired of having to play the same old crap all the time...

the same old crap that we love to listen to! :)

 
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mjp

Founding member
Like Bukowski and Crumb, Tom Waits likes to be different, he likes to be an outsider.
In the old time sideshow world there was a differentiation among the freaks. There were natural freaks and then there were made freaks. A made freak was someone who purposely did something to their body to earn their way into the show. Covered in tattoos, swallowing things normal people don't swallow, that kind of thing - an act. The natural freaks were born different, and held positions of higher esteem in the sideshow world. Lobster Boy, Dog-Faced Man, those kinds of people. People who couldn't help being different and certainly didn't choose to be different, but took a certain amount of pride in their difference.

Bukowski and Crumb are natural freaks. Tom Waits is a made freak.

So I don't think you can really compare them.
 

mjp

Founding member
Waits had a very normal upbringing and even served in some (non-wartime) branch of the armed forces, didn't he? I don't recall ever reading about any horrors visited upon him in his life. Granted, I've not read much about him.

Of course you can still be an outsider in your thoughts and actions even if your life is pretty normal, and you don't have to suffer to be an artist. Though those artists who have suffered usually wind up striking me as being more genuine and enjoyable than someone who is posing as whatever. That's just me. But I've always had a gut feeling that Waits was/is full of shit. Maybe I'm wrong. I usually am.

I don't usually comment on him or his music, but I found the comparison to be a bit hard to take. Take away my opinion and assume that all three men are on the same plane, as far as life and authenticity or whatever you want to call it. Even then, Waits is not on the creative level of the other two. Not even close, not ever close.
 

hoochmonkey9

Art should be its own hammer.
Moderator
Founding member
Waits puts on characters much like Bowie did. That can come across as inauthentic, for sure. I get that. But it doesn't matter to me. I see the affectation, accept it for what it is, and am still able to enjoy the music. But there is the rub, I like the music; if you don't, all the pose around it is going to become amplified and all the more annoying.

But I don't think you can compare Waits to Buk or Crumb. I don't see why anyone has to.
 

mjp

Founding member
Waits puts on characters much like Bowie did.
He comes from the time when almost everyone adopted a "character," since reality didn't cut it in the entertainment biz. I suppose he lucked out in picking an enduring one that he didn't have to abandon or change. Elton John, Bowie, Zamfir, they had to morph into different characters when the glitter stopped shining. Unlike those guys though, I never felt any humor from Waits. Maybe that's what didn't click with me. There was humor, but it seemed obvious and heavy-handed to me, like "Weird Al" Yankovic or Jay Leno.

(Almost) everyone in pop music puts on a front. I can't put my finger on why some grate and some seem right. It's just a feeling, and I suppose you can't have the feeling for everyone. If we all liked the same things -- well, that would just be weird. And not Weird Al weird.
 
Happy 70th birthday, Tom.

By the way: Today I've grabbed Wait's remarks about Bukowski being the influence for the idea of his song [not the album of that name] "Frank's Wild Years" from the Promo-CD of 1983.

It's attached for your convenience.
And as I said elsewhere a long time ago:
He obviously was thinking of the poem 'The Shoelace' (and not a short-story, as he states).
 

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d gray

tried to do his best but could not
Founding member
interesting, really funny guy but feels full of affectation (musically) to me.

always think of that line in a song that goes "hate to hear him sing but i love to hear him talk"

him and leonard cohen.
 
I'm not gonna duke it out with you guys over the merits of Waits' music--or his persona--but I will say I'm a big aficionado of his work and don't see him at all as a "fake" or pretender. Almost every performer takes on a persona of some kind, a mask, to both protect themselves from the pubic and present themselves to the public. Yes, Waits came from a middle class family and made himself (for a while anyway) into a street character and cheap motel dweller. Let's not forget that Bukowski came from a (lower) middle class family, not from the bowels of the ghetto, either.

In terms of a writer or perfomer being fake or a poser, I know what you guys are getting at. He may not have been a skid row dweller but when he writes and sings Tom Traubert's Blues, he's coming from a deep place of understanding and empathy. Nothing fake in that. Or Kentucky Avenue, that explores the wonder of childhood and the pain of disabiity and the way children perceive that in each other. Listen to Black Market Baby or Hold On and tell me he's faking it.

There's nothing inherently wrong with a mask or persona--if it doesn't get stuck to your face. I think that Waits knew the difference and eventually grew out of what he'd donned for a while. I think for Bukowski it got a little close but it made him very comfortable, financially, and he grew old with it gracefully, mostly. Where am I going with this? I say to my mirror that reflects the strongest and handsomest man in the village.
 
My prefered albums by Waits at the moment are Rain Dogs and Mule Variations. I would also recommend on watching the film Coffee and Cigarettes. Originally a short independent film that had a bit of a longer adaptation and finally got a full film length adaptation (including the short versions) by Jim Jarmusch, starring Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, The White Stripes, Wu tang Clan, Bill Murray and a lot more. A real fun watch.

Btw, I'm not sure on which album this features, but Ice Cream Man is a great song.
 
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