I’m a huge Tom Waits fan but it saddens me sometimes that his performing arts (as I think his current performances are best referred to) obscure the incredible musical talent in favor of his amazing creativity. Obviously both are infinitely enjoyable. So I listen to my old Tom Waits when I want to listen to music and I listen to the new Tom Waits when I want raw entertainment in the form of performing arts.
Tom is such a quotable character with his sly wit and poetic phrasing. I think the turning point for Tom’s performances are best summed up by a quote from the man himself. In Tom’s own words “Once you start singing through a bull horn its hard to go back”. What has driven him in the current direction is also better summarized by his statement “I only make new records because I get sick of the old one”.
Listening to new Tom Waits seems almost out of context to me. I find myself thinking you would have to know Tom’s musical past to appreciate where he is now and how he got there. The fact that he has new fans at all who don’t know his past is certainly proof he is appealing to a new audience who may not even appreciate his early works.
All that said my goal here is to introduce people to Tom Waits through three excellent Tom Waits albums. I believe these albums serve well to illustrate the progression in Tom’s musical path and possibly appreciate Tom, the performing artist, as he now appears. I’ve provided three widgets since the three albums are unique (as every Tom album is) and need to be absorbed independently and slowly like three fine wines.
I’d like to thank @zenuuatu up on Twitter for tweeting out this excellent Tom Waits performing Small Change (1977 Live) and inspiring this post. Be sure to check out Zenuuatu’s excellent youtube channel for some awesome tunes. Tell him WorldOfBlues sent you.
I could go on and on about Tom Waits, and I probably will. I’ve given him his own category here on the WorldOfBlues. Thanks for reading and leave me a note if you’d like.