Monday, September 04, 2006

Tom Waits for beginners


answering the question posted on another website as to where to begin with Tom Waits:

Bone Machine - this was my very first TW CD, picked it up because of the "sighting" in the Over the Rhine video Serpents and Gloves, and thereafter I was hooked. On first listen you will hear what sounds like an OtR piano playing, and you can see the influence Tom has had on Linford in this. took a few listens to truly get into it, but even upon first listen, I knew I was hearing something special. There's gold in them there hills, you just gotta do a little digging to get past the rough harsh ground you first encounter there and the mean looking dogs barking at the entrance. oh, and this is the one that won a grammy for best alternative album of the year back in whatever year that was.

Rain Dogs - His "most popular" album (whatever that means when talking about Tom Waits) among longtime fans. Pirates have taken over the carnival and they're making a mess of what you think you know about "music appreciation". Probably the worst thing about this one is the fact that Rod Stewart desecrated one of the songs on here (Downtown Train), killed it with radio play to the point that when you hear it here you can't help but think of Rod Stewart (who should be tarred and feathered for doing such a thing to Waits' music - although it probably made Tom a very rich man).

Closing Time - if you wanna get all wussie about it and "ease into" Tom Waits, this is definitely where to begin. His easiest on the ears, a dark and smokey jazz bar somewhere in the shady part of town, a lone piano player in the corner, just you and a few other patrons having a drink or two at the bar, trying to put your problems on the back burner for a little while... but loneliness and heartbreak are not so easily forgotten. Includes the ever-popular "Ol' 55".

Mule Variations - His best selling to date I think, definitely a great and varied taste of his style, this one has just about everything you could hope for from Tom, including a heartbreaking ballad or three that are right up there with (if not better than) anything he's ever done in his early piano days, as well as his trademark "ghost story" type talkies, and a few monsters-banging-on-things-and-scaring-the kids kinds of songs. Some would argue with the Rain Dogs crowd and say that this is his best.

I suggest starting with these 4, and once you can't get him out of your head and he has permanantly infected your soul, just start collecting the rest. Blood Money and Swordfish Trombones are my suggestions for your next stop. and if you just really want to freak yourself out right off the bat, get Real Gone, turn off all the lights at midnight, turn it up, and spin around until you're completely disoriented, and then sit there in the dark listening to the possessed voice filling your head until you cry.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Tom has definitely infected my soul and cannot and do not want to get him out of head. Thanks for the amazing descriptions of his music. Excellent!