Tuesday, June 17, 2014

W is for Tom Waits

ABC Wednesday
June 18th, 2014

Tom Waits came into my life via my two younger sons who reached their wild and hairy adolescence about the same time Tom Waits started recording, and was captured into their hearts.

His raspy, gravelly voice was described by one critic thusly  “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 by a car”…….. but both his voice and his lyrics held great appeal for them and their generation.

A mini biography here, begins as follows……

Described as one of the last beatniks of the contemporary music, Tom Waits - in fact - had two separate careers. From 1973 (LP "Closing Time") to 1983 ("One From The Heart" soundtrack), he recorded nine LPs for Asylum Records, writing songs mainly in the manner of Tin Pan Alley, mixing them with jazz and blues. Extraordinarily, he never produced a hit, but he earned a cult following all over the world. In 1983 he signed with Island Records, and released a series of albums that stunned the music world. Beginning with "Swordfishtrombones", he introduced a whole new orchestration, which included some of the instruments invented by Harry Partch. He found a new ground for his innovations, searching in sound fields that never before were searched. This second part of his career coincided with his marriage to Kathleen Brennan, a former writer for Francis Ford Coppola (Zoetrope (1999)). His LPs "Rain Dogs" (1985), "Big Time" (soundtrack) and "The Black Rider" are today what Kurt Weill's music was once. "The Black Rider" brings music written for the show directed by Bob Wilson and staged in Germany.

Leon Redbone is about as gravelly as I enjoy, but my boys adored Waits – still do!

Here he is in younger days….

and a Sesame Street Version of 'God's Away on Business'

For more wonderful Ws whisk yourself over to ABC Wednesday, here, with thanks to Roger, Denise and workers…..


Leslie: said...

I have never heard of him and just asked hubby if he had and he hasn't. Strange because hubby seems to know everything about music of that era. Hmmm...I do kinda like his raspy tone, though.

abcw team

Rajesh said...

Interesting personality.

Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil said...

Oh, I have actually met Tom Waits, though at the time I didn't know who he even was. I just saw a scruffy guy lingering in a corner at a friend's concert and said, "Are you OK?" He smiled and said, "Yeah. How 'bout you?" We shared a flask of bourbon I had secreted on my person. His song, "Step Right Up," is one of my favorites. He's a carnival barker... of sorts! Check it out! It's a hoot. Thanks for posting on ABC Weds. Amy

Roger Owen Green said...

I saw some movie from the 1990s, and he ended it with Somewhere from West Side Story. Oddly moving. Certainly an acquired taste, but I like him, in small doses.

Reader Wil said...

With a voice like that he could have played the role of the innkeeper in Les Misérables singing: "Master of the House..."
Thanks for sharing this and the two videos!
Have a very pleasant week, Hildred!
Wil, ABCW Team.

Nana Jo said...

Thank you for the introduction of Tom Waits' raspy deliciousness. It's quirky, and definitely interesting.

SamuraiFrog said...

Beautiful stuff; Tom Waits' music never fails for me. Definitely not the kind of thing my mother liked, but I used to play his early stuff pretty loud.