Thursday, November 30, 2006


No, I'm not talking about LL Cool J.

I'm talking about Tom Waits.

At this point, my CD collection spans several hundred years of music (from Beethoven and before to Enduser and beyond) and innumerable genres (pop, rock, blues, jazz, and a ton of others most folks have never even heard of; e.g. "what the hell is 'glitch'?").

And over 2500 recordings.

With that much music, you can just imagine how hard it is when people ask me, "Who's your favorite band?" This is damn near an impossible question for me, as a sufferer of advanced audio addiction, to answer. Depends on my mood; depends on what kind of day I've had, what I've done, what I'm looking forward to doing, and what's going on around me at the time. I have a very thirsty ear, so it's easy for me to jump from one sound to another that seems completely unrelated.

My brain is a weird place to live sometimes. Trust me. Anyway, with all this music around me, I do have to say that one man always fits the mood.

That man is Tom Waits.

Since 1973, Tom has been putting out the most diverse and adventurous music I've ever heard. Notice I didn't say "some of the most diverse". No: the most diverse and adventurous. No other artist I know has experimented to the same degree that Waits has. There is no genre that man is afraid to utilize, from straight ahead rock to blues to soul to jazz to balladry to outer edge experimentalism.

His new 3-disc collection, Orphans, is a perfect example. From the Anti website:

Brawlers is packed with full throated juke joint stomp, boogies and riotous blues. It’s roadhouse Waits... he chugs, whistles and screams. It’s primal steaming surreal blues. He channels the Stones, Beefheart, Muddy Waters and T-Rex. One new one, "Low Down" is raw garage rock with Waits’ 20 year old son, Casey on drums and San Francisco’s white trash blues icon, Ron Hacker, on guitar.

Bawlers – Lonesome ballads about the sadness at the end of the road are framed by tender songs of innocence and green hope. The plaintive hill country laments of, "Tell It To Me" and the cautionary tale, "Fannin Street" blend poignantly with saloon songs of betrayal and despair ("The World Keeps Turning"), Celtic waltzes and bitter cabaret torch songs like, "It’s Over" and "Little Drop Of Poison", all of which explore what the heart gives and what it takes away.

Bastards – explores the strange and unusual side of Waits, who is peculiar by nature. Contained here is experimental music and scary tales. There are uncategorizable diversions into this dark side. It tunnels beneath the city with spiels, rants, mouth rhythms, including a poignant reminiscence of car ownership, a Ramones cover and a version of Daniel Johnston’s, "King Kong", a disturbing bedtime story,(not for children faint of heart), and a poem by Charles Bukowski. It has insects, murder, drowning and insanity. Or as ma says, the full dinner menu.

So it's a continuation of the wonderful weirdness that Tom has been putting out for years. Sure, there were only dribs and drabs of bizarre prior to 1983, but that was the era of gin-soaked, melancholy Tom. Beautiful darkness, lovingly crafted. Then came 1983's Swordfishtrombones. The flood gates exploded and Waits brought the weird. And it's been a delirious trip ever since.

Keep going, Tom. I wanna see where else you take me.

(And tour more, damn it!)

Inner world travel diary:

Tom Waits - Orphans
(three discs of pure gold)

Louis Armstrong - Hot Fives And Sevens
(four discs of pure old)

Nile - Annihilation Of The Wicked
(oh.. my... god; sorry, I mean Ra)

Various - DJ Abstract 17: Midnight At The Velvet Club
(kickin' back and chillin' out)

Various - DJ Abstract 18: Arc Light Mix
(poundin' down)


Post a Comment

<< Home