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I think I fixed the link above. Can you guess who she be?

helen highwater?

 

I guess the donkey sounds gave it away. Damn!

 

i don't like prettified waits anymore than i like prettified cohen.

 

I don't think she did much to pretty it up. I think the Holly Cole tribute is atrocious. But this was Megan Mellally from Will and Grace. I think she's very credible myself but I'm so open and loving in general.

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Wilfrid:

 

Put Nighthawks at the Diner up next to Frank's Wild Years and then tell me it all sounds the same.

 

 

Mongo:

 

PM an address; I'll send you a CD of Frank's Wild Years (and I might even have another jar of mango butter hanging around).

 

 

RG:

 

Flor de Junio beans tonight. Oops – off topic.

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Mongo:

 

PM an address; I'll send you a CD of Frank's Wild Years (and I might even have another jar of mango butter hanging around).

incoming. damn right, you're going to send me a jar of mango butter--i cannot believe the johnsons appropriated the one i was supposed to get in manhattan.

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I saw him with his family one Saturday at the farmers market. Very odd little fella.

 

See if you can't rent John Lurie's Fishing With John. The Tom Waits segment is pretty great, especially if you hear Lurie's commentary. Tom was a real pill apparently.

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I saw him with his family one Saturday at the farmers market. Very odd little fella.

 

See if you can't rent John Lurie's Fishing With John. The Tom Waits segment is pretty great, especially if you hear Lurie's commentary. Tom was a real pill apparently.

so is the section with waits and iggy pop in jarmusch's "coffee and cigarettes". iggy seems genuinely freaked out by waits.

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although Postcard from a hooker almost suffers from a high school Creative Writing class syndrome. Almost.

there are such moments in quite a few of even his greatest songs from the early period. for example, "invitation to the blues" is one of my favourite songs by anyone-- like a densely textured novel or film in 6 verses and 5 minutes and 24 seconds. most musicians would go a lifetime wishing they could write just the piano introduction, let alone the lyrics. a sublime opening third:

 

Well she's up against the register

with an apron and a spatula

with yesterday's deliveries,

and the tickets for the bachelors

she's a moving violation

from her conk down to her shoes

but it's just an invitation to the blues

 

and you feel just like Cagney

she looks like Rita Hayworth

at the counter of the Schwab's drug store

you wonder if she might be single

she's a loner likes to mingle

got to be patient and pick up a clue

 

she says howyougonnalikem

over medium or scrambled

you say anyway's the only way

be careful not to gamble

on a guy with a suitcase

and a ticket gettin out of here

in a tired bus station

and an old pair of shoes

this ain't nothing but an invitation to the blues

 

right after that in the middle section comes my favorite part of the song:

 

there ain't nothin back in Jersey

but a broken-down jalopy

of a man I left behind

and a dream that I was chasin

a battle with the booze

and an open invitation to the blues

 

the chord change on "of a man i left behind" is what does it. unfortunately, right before this there is a billy joel moment. here's the full verse:

 

but you can't take your eyes off her

get another cup of java

it's just the way she pours it for you

joking with the customers

mercy mercy Mr. Percy

there ain't nothin back in Jersey

but a broken-down jalopy

of a man I left behind

and a dream that I was chasin

a battle with the booze

and an open invitation to the blues

 

better than most people could write, yes. but still it is good to know that even tom waits occasionally threw out a "mercy mercy, mr. percy". gives the rest of us hope. of course, by the time he got to "swordfishtrombones" he was done with linear narrative.

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Mongo:

 

PM an address; I'll send you a CD of Frank's Wild Years (and I might even have another jar of mango butter hanging around).

incoming. damn right, you're going to send me a jar of mango butter--i cannot believe the johnsons appropriated the one i was supposed to get in manhattan.

Look, compared with the koh-i-nor, a jar of mango butter is nothing.

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although Postcard from a hooker almost suffers from a high school Creative Writing class syndrome. Almost.

there are such moments in quite a few of even his greatest songs from the early period. for example, "invitation to the blues" is one of my favourite songs by anyone-- like a densely textured novel or film in 6 verses and 5 minutes and 24 seconds. most musicians would go a lifetime wishing they could write just the piano introduction, let alone the lyrics. a sublime opening third:

 

Well she's up against the register

with an apron and a spatula

with yesterday's deliveries,

and the tickets for the bachelors

she's a moving violation

from her conk down to her shoes

but it's just an invitation to the blues

 

and you feel just like Cagney

she looks like Rita Hayworth

at the counter of the Schwab's drug store

you wonder if she might be single

she's a loner likes to mingle

got to be patient and pick up a clue

 

she says howyougonnalikem

over medium or scrambled

you say anyway's the only way

be careful not to gamble

on a guy with a suitcase

and a ticket gettin out of here

in a tired bus station

and an old pair of shoes

this ain't nothing but an invitation to the blues

 

right after that in the middle section comes my favorite part of the song:

 

there ain't nothin back in Jersey

but a broken-down jalopy

of a man I left behind

and a dream that I was chasin

a battle with the booze

and an open invitation to the blues

 

the chord change on "of a man i left behind" is what does it. unfortunately, right before this there is a billy joel moment. here's the full verse:

 

but you can't take your eyes off her

get another cup of java

it's just the way she pours it for you

joking with the customers

mercy mercy Mr. Percy

there ain't nothin back in Jersey

but a broken-down jalopy

of a man I left behind

and a dream that I was chasin

a battle with the booze

and an open invitation to the blues

 

better than most people could write, yes. but still it is good to know that even tom waits occasionally threw out a "mercy mercy, mr. percy". gives the rest of us hope. of course, by the time he got to "swordfishtrombones" he was done with linear narrative.

OK, I'm convinced. What should I buy?

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there are three distinct major phases in his career. at the start there are albums where he is a slightly more conventional blues-jazz singer-songwriter. this lasts through the mid-70s. then there's a period from about 1975 to 1980 where he's an increasingly avant-garde storyteller. starting with "swordfishtrombones" he's almost unrecognizable as the creator of the albums from the first period--lots of dissonant soundscapes, surreal lyrics. this last phase can probably be broken out into two parts, with the most recent work more operatic and theatrical.

 

i think you would do best to start with the middle period. i would get the following to start out:

 

"blue valentine"

"small change" (which features "invitation to the blues")

"heartattack and vine"

 

"swordfishtrombones" and "raindogs" from the third period are just sublime. "frank's wild years" is also excellent but may be a bit much for someone new to waits. these three albums form a musical/lyrical set. of the recent work, "mule variations" is just outstanding.

 

from the earlier period "heart of saturday night" is excellent. "nighthawks at the diner" which is a live album of performances of original songs and improvized banter is in a category of its own.

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and here are the lyrics to the title track of "swordfishtrombones"

 

Well he came home from the war

with a party in his head

and modified Brougham DeVille

and a pair of legs that opened up like butterfly wings

and a mad dog that wouldn't sit still

 

he went and took up with a Salvation Army Band girl

who played dirty water on a swordfishtrombone

he went to sleep at the bottom of Tenkiller lake

and said "gee, but it's great to be home."

 

Well he came home from the war

with a party in his head

and an idea for a fireworks display

and he knew that he'd be ready with a stainless steel machete

and a half a pint of Ballantine's each day

 

and he holed up in a room above a hardware store

cryin' nothing there but Hollywood tears

he put a spell on some poor little Crutchfield girl

and stayed like that for 27 years

 

He packed up all his expectations

he lit out for California

with a flyswatter banjo on his knee

with a lucky tiger in his angel hair

and benzedrine for getting there

they found him in a eucalyptus tree

 

lieutenant got him a canary bird

and skanked her head with every word

Chesterfielded moonbeams in a song

and he got 20 years for lovin' her

from some Oklahoma governor

who said "everything this Doughboy does is wrong"

 

Now some say he's doing the obituary mambo

and some say he's hanging on the wall

perhaps this yarn is the only thing

that holds this man together

some say that he was never here at all

 

Some say they saw him down in Birmingham

sleeping in a boxcar going by

and if you think that you can tell a bigger tale

I swear to God you'd have to tell a lie...

 

somehow it all makes perfect sense when he sings it.

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ah, this thread has sent me into a full-on tom waits jag. here's a great interview from the mid-80s in nme. make sure you scroll down to the interview proper. he gives dylan a run for his money in the off-the-cuff obscurity department.

 

some extracts:

 

NME -How did you avoid the draft during the 60's?

 

TW - I was in Israel on a kibbutz. No I wasn't, that's a lie, I was in Washington, sir. I was in the White House as an aide. I got excused, the way anyone would get a note from school: 'Dear Mr President, Tom is sick today and won't be able to come along'.

 

NME - Can you remember why you became a musician in the first place?

 

TW - I couldn't get into medical school, the administration at the time made it difficult for me.

 

 

NME - How did Keith Richards come to be on the album?

 

TW - We're relatives, I didn't realise it. We met in a women's lingerie shop, we were buying brassieres for our wives. They had a little place at the back there where you could have a drink, two cups at a time.

 

No, he's been borrowing money from me for so long that I had to put a stop to it. He's a gentleman, he came into the studio and took his hat off and all these birds flew out.

 

and then there's some great stuff about his approach to music and change:

 

 

There's a place where Nigeria will lapse into Louisiana, there's things about music that happen spontaneously and you move into places that would otherwise have no connection. If you play a certain rhythm and move it a little, it becomes something else, move it back and it becomes a Carpathian waltz, move it further and you have a Gamelan trajectory coming in. It creates its own geography.

 

...

 

All you can do is listen to the things that are of value to you and try to find a place for yourself. I don't want to sound too serious here, but it's like when you're together with people for a long time and talking about the things only you know. That must be the very sad thing about getting very old and all your friends die and you're talking to some guy and he's saying yeah, yeah, yeah and you're thinking, yeah, but he doesn't really know.

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