Monday, February 21, 2011

Musical Monday: Tom Waits

YAAAAAAAAAAY! Finally, I've got around to writing the Musical Monday for one of my favorite artist of all time. Tom.Freaking.Waits. If you know me, you know that I love Tom Waits. I've been listening to him since I was about 13. I think. But that's besides the point. Here's a run-down on the deliciously vaudeville, unique singer-songwriter I enjoy whole-heartedly.

First off, Tom Waits is 61 and has a discography of 23 albums. That should impress anybody no matter if he's your style or not. But that brings me to my second point. Tom Waits is one of the most versatile artists I've heard. He's ranged from style of blues, jazz, as I mentioned above vaudeville, pre-rock, and industrial. There's something here for everyone. One thing he keeps fundamental throughout these varying style however is his extremely unique singing voice. I once a read a music critic Daniel Durchholz,  description of Tom Waits' voice saying it was "like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car." Pretty accurate if you ask me. But when he sings his more "mainstream" songs, for lack of a better term, especially in a jazz style his voice is rolling and gravelly and deep. Very nice, Mr.Waits, very nice.

Below is a list of my favorite songs in some of his genres, though keep in mind, my taste in music is very,very questionable so I understand if he isn't to your tastes!


Alice (Beautiful, beautiful song)
I'm Still Here
~ Romeo is Bleeding
~  Diamonds on My Windshield
Heart of Saturday Night version)
  Looking for the Heart of Saturday Night
Burma Shave
Depot, Depot
Fumblin' With the Blues
~ Ice Cream Man
~ Brother Can You Spare a Dime

You may recognize that Bing Crosby did this)
Tango Till They're Sore
Another example of his great imagery)

~Table Top Joe
I think this one is the one that you guys *might* like the most
I Never Talk to Strangers
Duet with Bette Midler, they were a cute couple!)

~ The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)
~ Little Drop of Poison
This was on Shrek, just sayin')
Blue Valentines
(This is one of the most heart-broken, beautiful songs I've ever heard, very poignant)

~ A Good Man is Hard to Find
Dirt in The Ground
~ Whistlin' Past the Graveyard
 (Great beat here)
Mr. Henry 
Muriel~Medley: Jack & Neal/California, Here I Come 
                              ~A Sight for Sore Eyes  

~Rain Dogs
~Clap Hands
~Jockey full of Bourbon

~Watch her disappear
poken like a poem)
This one is probably has got the best imagery, so if you don't like the actual song, simply read the lyrics and soak up his awesomeness)

What's he Building in There?
This one is the creepiest so forewarned, but it's a great critique on society's view on the famous)
Road To Peace 
(Critique on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict)

Chocolate Jesus
Another critique on how religion is being used and abused in the 21st century
9th and Hennepin
~Missing My Son (
Funny short story)
~ Mockin' Bird (Tom owns on the piano here)

And these are just a few of my favorite Tom Waits songs. I have exactly 473 on my RythmBox. Yeah. But, merely listing out some of my favorite songs isn't really going to convince you to go an listen to him, is it?
WELL. Besides having a novelty voice (I swear he gargles with kerosene and nails every morning) Tom Waits is foremost a writer. He has this knack for using words which when paired together don't seem to make sense on there own, but when you just listen to the song it evokes such raw, undiluted emotion. Really, they all have this open ambiance, this out-of-placeness, which ironically still fits. And his words aren't even what one would call "flowery", but its like he knows exactly what words to use before he even puts the pen to paper.  The imagery he's capable of evoking is amazing, such as in the song "Singapore". 

We sail tonight for Singapore, we're all as mad as hatters here/

I've fallen for a tawny Moor, took off to the land of Nod/
Drank with all the Chinamen, walked the sewers of Paris/
I danced along a colored wind, dangled from a rope of sand/
You must say goodbye to me/

Colored wind, sewers of Paris, mad hatters? This whole story/song evokes this alternate realm of mad-cap Victorian-esque, surrealist, oil painting style of crazy. Tom waits is simply the man, for me anyway, when it comes to song writing, along with a few others in my questionable brain. 

Anyway, Tom Waits is also known for doing some acting such as "The Outsiders", "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus", "Coffee and Cigarettes", "The Book of Eliand "Dracula".  As he himself once put it, "there's a difference between being an actor and doing some acting" but he is actually quite good. If you ever watch these films, watch for his cameos.

so many different style and instruments like the accordion and even using completely random objects such as a garbage disposal machine to produce his industrial sounds. I know that when bloggers post musical articles, not everyone listens to the songs they post but, for real check this guy out. Or at least read his lyrics. He's not for everyone but he's got to be one of my most inspiring artists so I think he deserved a mention here on my blog.

Opinions on this week's artist, Mr. Waits? Heard or seen him before?

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