Posts Tagged ‘Tom Waits’

Happy birthday, Tom Waits

December 7, 2019

Himself turned 70 today. Many more to him. You really gotta hold on, Thomas me lad.

New coat of paint

November 23, 2019

“Come On Up To The House: Women Sing Waits,”
is available at Dualtone Music Group.

Tom Waits is an acquired taste (just ask Pat O’B), but Allison Moorer finds him delicious.

Moorer and several other female artists, working with producer Warren Zanes, have released an album of Waits covers titled “Come On Up To The House: Women Sing Waits.”

They lay a sweet, smooth coat of Sherwin-Williams over that weatherbeaten Waits structure, which Zanes describes with all due respect as a “trash-can aesthetic,” and it works beautifully in the cuts I’ve heard.

Roseanne Cash performs a gently reimagined “Time,” one of the Waits songs I like to play badly on guitar. Iris Dement, a frequent John Prine collaborator, takes a deep, Dolly Parton country dive into “The House Where Nobody Lives.” And Patty Griffin’s take on “Ruby’s Arms” strips the original of its instrumental fat and gets right down to the bone.

In an interview on NPR’s “Weekend Edition Saturday,” Scott Simon quotes Moorer describing Waits as “a fully integrated artist who seemingly sees the whole picture at once and knows how to present it so that we do too.”

“He does seem to draw up marginal characters a lot — people who are either stuck in life or we don’t consider them people that we see,” Moorer said. “He exposes the everyday.”

Zanes hopes the album will unearth the lyrical voice that for some may be inextricable from the “grit and the growl” that characterizes Waits’s delivery.

“I think over the years he went deeper into the back of the cave, and sometimes I think people fail to see the very classic nature of the songs because of that ‘trash can’ aesthetic,” he told Simon.

“We viewed it as, ‘His 70th birthday is coming, and it’s a feast day, and we’re gonna take these songs and we’re gonna give them all the sweetness that we can.’ There’s something about the female voice that’s associated with a kind of vulnerability and a kind of emotion that we really wanted to breathe in these songs.”

Meanwhile, here’s the original “Ruby’s Arms,” the closer to 1980’s “Heartattack and Vine.” I was alone and miserable in Tucson when I trudged down Orange Grove Road to some anonymous Oracle Road music shop to buy this one. Still have it, too.

He went down, down, down

July 31, 2019

It’s all downhill from here.

Nope, I didn’t break the speed limit. I maxed out around 35 mph as I dropped from the top of Tramway to Roy, 4th, Guadalupe Trail, Alameda, and finally, the Paseo del Bosque.

As you know, I am a law-abiding fellow, and rarely in a hurry.

Last trip down I was on the Soma Saga (disc). This time I took the Soma Saga (canti), having finally toed the squeak out of the TRP RevoX brakes.

The TRP RevoX. You need a jillion Allen keys and a 13mm wrench to make this dog hunt. But hunt it does. I never had to Flintstone to a stop.

I’ve tried a bunch of brakes on this bike and hadn’t really liked any of ’em. Paul’s MiniMoto would be the shit, but cabling proved a little crowded with 38mm tires and fenders. And I was fresh out of my go-to stoppers, Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring cantis, having shifted my last pair to the Voodoo Nakisi.

Happily, I had this set of TRPs idling around the garage, so on they went. A little fiddly for a half-assed mechanic to set up, and on our last outing they brayed like jackasses, but now they work and sound just fine. Still, when time and finance permit I’ll give some more money to my man Paul, just ’cause.

The bosque was nuts for a workday morning. Racer dudes and dudettes, recreational riders, e-bikers, recumbents, joggers, skaters, strollers, equestrians, even one grinning young woman aboard what I think was an ElliptiGO.

I had thought about doing the whole enchilada, continuing down past Rio Bravo and back around, but discretion proved the better part of valor. I hung a U at Interstate 40 and went back the way I came for a grand total of 47.8 miles, which felt about right.

As I rode up Roy toward the Tramway climb I saw a rara avis indeed — a triplet, barreling down toward the roundabout at 4th and Roy. I waved, and the dude in the middle waved back, but he looked like he’d rather have both hands on the bars and I can’t say I blame him. That was one crowded bike and like our “democracy” I imagine it demanded everyone’s attention and participation.

If you’re looking for them “Deep River Blues,” they’re off to the left, behind the cottonwoods, and they’re actually more of a brown.

Bucket (play)list

July 14, 2018

It never rains, but it pours. Enough to fill up that bucket, anyway.

The rain gods finally heard our prayers this afternoon. Or maybe they heard the Tom Waits. I was playing “Small Change,” but it might be time to cue up “Rain Dogs.” For I am a Rain Dog too.

Make it rain

June 16, 2018

Finally. What a great day to be a rain dog.

Broken bicycles

December 7, 2017

Carl sent me on a trip down the Tom Waits rabbithole with his tip about a BBC documentary on the man, so blame him for a dose of Waits during Zappadan.

This is from “One from the Heart,” the score for a Coppola flick I don’t believe I ever saw; I have the vinyl around here somewhere.

And pardon my French, but you ain’t heard shit until you’ve heard Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle doing a duet.

 

The music a’Waits

March 14, 2017

OK, apropos of nothing in particular, check out this interview with Tom Waits at The New York Times Style Magazine.

Beck and Kendrick Lamar are in there, too, if that’s how you roll.

The money quote for me — from Waits, of course — is about inspiration and how it strikes:

If you want to catch songs you gotta start thinking like one, and making yourself an interesting place for them to land like birds or insects.

 

Life is but a dream

December 19, 2016
Life is but a dream; it's what you make it.

Life is but a dream; it’s what you make it.

Those last few moments of sleep before the bathroom light snaps on and a cat jumps on you are prime dreamtime.

So I’m drinking beer with Tom Waits and while we sip we’re wandering around his cabin, which is more of a shack, really, and with a decidedly M.C. Escherish tilt to it, and I’m apparently staying the night ’cause Tom rasps, “You know where the mattress is, right?”

And I ask where Kathleen is, and he says she’s dealing them off the arm downtown at some hipster hash house, and he wonders what that’s like, because every time he and the band are trying to wrap up a track it seems they get hungry and need a bite to carry on but even getting a simple sandwich from this posh beanery is a pain in the ass because the chef is always short some effete ingredient.

“Sorry, can’t finish your sandwich without my artisanal mayonnaise,” I quip, and we both have a good laugh about that and then the bathroom light snaps on and the Turk jumps on me.

And none of this has anything to do with the fact that the Electoral College votes today and with a little mercy, a lot of balls and a metric shit-ton of educated, far-sighted patriotism they could save us all from ourselves and deny Sir Donald of Orange his dubiously acquired electoral majority.

This would dump the whole hot mess into the fat lap of Congress. And the House would select some garden-variety-nightmare Republican to be president, and just maybe — maybe! — given the popular vote, the Senate would pick some run-of-the-mill Democrat to be vice president.

But being a presidential elector in these circumstances must feel a lot like being the maid at the Motel 666 in Federalist 68 Hell. We get to shit the bed and she has to wash the sheets?

No, thanks, honey, she purrs. I’d rather make a sandwich for Tom Waits. I know what kind of mayo he likes, and I hear there’s some beer left.

Life is but a dream. Hail, Beelzebozo.

 

(Almost) last leaf

November 12, 2015
Hang on there, fellas, it's only 38 outside.

Hang on there, fellas, it’s only 38 outside.

It’s not quite the last leaf on the tree … but it’s close.

Everyone’s a winner, bargains galore

June 1, 2013

wiggo-pythonToday is the neighborhood’s biennial yard sale, an event during which one hopes against all reason that strangers will cart off one’s useless bullshit and leave money in its place. This makes the tooth-fairy tale seem reasonable by comparison.

And now for something completely different: There is no truth to the rumor that Bradley Wiggins is skipping the 2013 Tour de France in order to stand in for the late Graham Chapman in a revival of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”