August 3, 2009

Tom Waits

From the Songs you won't hear on the radio files:

I first saw Tom Waits on Saturday Night Live in 1977 doing Eggs and Sausage. Interesting, but not my vibe at the time. (Here's a funky accapella version I've never heard before. With French subtitles, no less. Like, I dig it, man.)

The first time I was blown away by Waits was when I heard Tom Traubert's Blues on the radio in the late 80s. The song was released in 1976, but it took a decade to get to me. Hey, I was busy.

Our feature song from Waits for this issue is Hold On. (Sorry, ebedding disabled.) The video leaves out my favorite verse.

God bless your crooked little heart / St. Louis got the best of me / I miss your broken china voice / How I wish you were still here with me / Well, you build it up and wreck it down / And you burn your mansions to the ground / When there's nothing left to keep you here / When you're falling behind in this big blue world / You got to hold on

To get Mr. Wait's vibe, check out this live version of The Piano Has Been Drinking on Fernwood Tonight followed by some sardonic couch chat.

Waits has done his share of psycho videos and (in my humble but accurate opinion) completely unlistenable music, like half of the Bone Machine album, which won a Grammy, go figure. (I can't find examples online of the truly horrific parts.) But his moody stuff, like Alice [lyrics] and Invitation to the Blues [lyrics] (with some nice banter and a side of Johnsburg, Illinois), is leviticusly deuteronomous, the coughing fan notwithstanding.

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