Tom Waits

Tom Waits and Allen Ginsberg, New York, 1975 – photo by Richard Aaron

Tom Waits birthday today – Happy 74th birthday, Tom

We draw your attention to his extensive (and we do mean extensive) Wikipedia page.  Also, of course, to his official web site and also The Tom Waits Library – “The Tom Waits Library is the largest website where everything about Tom Waits can be found. The site contains 1,518 pages, 8,122 images, 337 interviews, all performances, all song lyrics, all official albums, unofficial albums, movies, plays, the musicians Waits worked with, etc”

Josh Jones on Open Culture has four great Tom Waits postings (don’t miss them!):
“Tom Waits Curates a 76-Song Playlist of His Own Music – An Introduction to Tom Waits by Tom Waits”
“Stream All of Tom Waits’ Music in a 24 Hour Playlist: The Complete Discography” 
Tom Waits Makes a List of His Top 20 Favorite Albums of All Time”
“Tom Waits For No One: Watch the Pioneering Animated Tom Waits Music Video from 1979” 
(a cartoon Tom Waits?)

(A real Tom Waits?)

On the occasion of his newly-remastered Island Records catalog – “How To Play With Tom Waits”    Morgan Enos speaks to Waits’ musician-collaborators from that crucial period


& Tom Waits and the Beats? – well, the relationship seems almost symbiotic, organic – frankly, pretty obvious.
In a brief note for Beatdom, “Modern Beats”David S Wills examines the connection – here  –

Bones Howe (famed record producer) memorably compared Waits performing to “Allen Ginsberg with a really, really good band.””

from a 2006 Sean O’Hagan Guardian profile:

“Until his wife came along two decades later, the Beat writers were his most important influence…The essence, in fact, of a good many Tom Waits songs. Why, I ask, were the Beats so crucial to him?”

“‘They were father figures” (he replies)..  ‘They were the ones I looked to for guidance. See, my dad left when I was 10, so I was always looking for a dad. It was like, “Are you my dad? Are you my dad? What about you? Are you my dad?” I found a lot of these old salty guys along the way.”


“Durham WASP”. writes here on the connection between Tom Waits and William Burroughs.

(and we’re thinking, of course, also, of his subsequent work in The Black Rider – “The Black Rider – The Casting of the Magic Bullets”):

“Adapted from the German folktale, “Der Freischütz,” it’s the story of Wilhelm, a filing clerk who falls in love with the daughter of a huntsman, and to have any chance of marrying his beloved, he must prove himself as a hunter. But Wilhelm is a lousy shot, and his situation seems hopeless. Until he meets the Devil at the crossroads, who offers him magic bullets that always hit their mark. But like with any Faustian pact, it…doesn’t go well.”


and –  (So) “I guess everybody reads Kerouac at some point in their life” – (this is Tom Waits talking) – “Even though I was growing up in Southern California, he made a tremendous impression on me. It was 1968. I started wearing dark glasses and got myself a subscription to Downbeat … I was a little late. Kerouac died in 1969 in St Petersburg, Florida, a bitter old man.”

“I became curious about style more than anything else. I discovered Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti … Ginsberg still comes up with something every now and again.”

“The first time I heard any spoken word that I was really impressed with was an album called ‘Kerouac/Allen’ – Steve Allen & Jack Kerouac and he talked while Steve Allen played some stuff and he just talked over the top of it and it was real, real effective – I had never heard anything like it”

Later he would record:

The above are three authentic Waits recordings (Waits and the Beats)

not to be confused with the “America” mash-up –  (not an authentic recording by him – but, still, as it turns out, an interesting curio)

Patrick Humphries’ The Many Lives of Tom Waits from 2008 was the first comprehensive biography. Barney Hoskins’  Lowside of the Road followed two years later in 2010.

Here’s  “Diamonds On My Windshield” from back in 1974.  Memories, memories.
Keep surprising us, Tom.

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