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Two concert films from Tom Waits
March 1, 2013 10:16 PM   Subscribe

Burma Shave and Big Time, all there in their entirety, for your Waitsian viewing and listening pleasure.
posted by flapjax at midnite (31 comments total) 79 users marked this as a favorite

 
THANK YOU.

(bookmarks sites and scuttles off into corner, opening Youtube as she goes)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:44 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Made me a ladder from a pawnshop marimba!
posted by Meatbomb at 10:56 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Remember when Bravo used to show movies? That is where I was first introduced to Mr.Waits when they played Big Time in the late 90's. It was exactly what I needed then and it is exactly what I need now. Thank you, Flaps.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:44 PM on March 1, 2013


(Dusts off tiny bicycle, tunes ukelele, puts on satan hat)
posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:47 PM on March 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm with Robert Crumb on Tom Waits.

His "old-timey"/Bukowsky pastiche act is too irritating for me to enjoy his well-written (if maudlin) tunes. Bone Machine I can tolerate, I guess.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:48 AM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've just listened to both of these and they're great. But then again I am obsessed with Tom Waits.
posted by gonzo_ID at 2:36 AM on March 2, 2013


We've 32ish posts on Tom Waits. wow!
posted by jeffburdges at 3:07 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Robert Crumb is right, and wrong. There is an old-timey schtick. And yet, that Tom Waits (the first, Bukowski versus the Art Noise later one), made some absolutely great tunes that hold up.

Tom Traubert's Blues, Heart of Saturday Night, Ghost of Saturday Night, Martha....

The later Tom Waits dropped the act, but slightly lost the tunes for angularity.

Also, Marc Ribot is my kind of guitarist.
posted by C.A.S. at 3:38 AM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thanks for this!
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:39 AM on March 2, 2013


I like Tom up to a point, and that point pretty much is Big Time. I didn't listen to much of his stuff after that.

I did see Big Time in Wormwood's Theater back when it was released. If there is anything I miss in HFX, it's that theater. There just isn't anything like it anymore.
posted by SpannerX at 5:10 AM on March 2, 2013


I do believe that first link is Tom Waits on Austin City Limits in 1978, to be specific.

This was the show that bent my head around and made me a Waits fan for life.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:20 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Flapjax, I've never watched Big Time... The first vid is from Tom Waits' s appearance at ACL I guess.
posted by nicolin at 6:28 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


The first time I heard Tom Waits was in my father's car. He picked me up after school and we drove to the Strawberries on Revere Beach Parkway (a store that always frightened me for their floor-to-ceiling wallpaper of death metal posters, BUT I DIGRESS). He bought a copy of a tape I'd later learn was Swordfishtrombones.

When we got in the car and he put the tape in, a wave of confusion came over me. Dad's sitting in seat next to me, I thought to myself. Why is his voice coming out of the speakers?

Why are all my MeFi music stories about riding around with my dad? What's up with that?
posted by pxe2000 at 7:05 AM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Robert Crumb is right, and wrong.

I'd say, in this case, way more leaning to the wrong side. Cause Waits is so much more than "old-timey/Bukowsky pastiche act". He's brought plenty of his own to the table. Which, ironically, is much more than R. Crumb ever brought to the table with his Cheap Suit Serenaders. I mean, you wanna talk about old-timey pastiche? Hell, you can start with the Cheap Suit Serenaders. They're just another buncha guys playing tunes exactly the way they heard 'em on the 78s that some 78s record collector freak turned 'em on to. Waits, on the other hand, has drawn from the American tradition and moved it forward, in a big way. In a personal way. R. Crumb is a fabulous cartoonist (I'm a huge fan), but his musical endeavors have brought nothing forward, whatsoever. Just musical museum pieces his band has regurgitated in an absolutely unremarkable way.

But, having said all that, now I'd like to see some cite for whatever comments Robert Crumb has made on Waits. Anything you can point us to? I don't doubt you, you understand, but I'd like to get it straight from the horse's mouth.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:25 AM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I first heard Tom Waits courtesy of the friend who was my "plus-one" when I went to my brother's wedding; he's someone I've known for 15 years and once dated. I was driving us all the way up from New York to Vermont; he didn't drive, so he said he'd take care of the music the whole way.

He put on Rain Dogs, and I didn't pay attention to the first couple songs too much because I was trying to find my way up the Merrit Parkway and onto a road north. But then "Jockey Full of Bourbon" came on and I recognized it - "wait, is this from Down By Law?"

"No," he said, "Down By Law borrowed these from Tom Waits."

I shut up and listened to the song as I drove. And the next one. And the next.

We did not listen to Rain Dogs on the drive home. But the reason we did not was because, while we were packing for the drive home, I secretly packed his copy of Rain Dogs in my suitcase so I could burn it as soon as I got home and then return it to him.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:27 AM on March 2, 2013


Why are all my MeFi music stories about riding around with my dad? What's up with that?

Because you're relatively young, and your dad was hipper than you want to believe. You didn't invent the wheel. Live with it. :)

posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:29 AM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


His "old-timey"/Bukowsky pastiche act is too irritating for me

In several interviews with Waits he talks about how when he was a kid he didn't want to play with the other kids but hang out with their fathers instead. He'd dress up in suits and go sit in the den and say, "So, Bob, how about them Dodgers?" while the other kids were running around outside.

It may be an act, yeah, but it's one he's been running for longer than you might think.

[caveat: I know that it may be an understatement to say that Waits is prone to make up stories during interviews. I only believe this one because it's come up a few times.]
posted by komara at 8:09 AM on March 2, 2013


I like Tom up to a point, and that point pretty much is Big Time. I didn't listen to much of his stuff after that.

Wow, that's almost the exact opposite of my own experience. My dad was the guy who turned me on to him originally, but that was from the Blue Valentine / Small Change era. I kind of liked him then, but it really was a schtick, he was playing at being Bukowski, wearing the clothes of a 1950s vagabond. He was in costume.

But luckily for all of us, with enough time pretending he managed to grow into those clothes. He became what he'd been playing at all those years.

Big Time. Holy shit. This was not play acting, this was finally something that was real. The drinking and the cigarettes had transformed the young musician into a screeching beast that had something new to say.

Standing by for further instructions, Mr. Waits!
posted by Meatbomb at 8:14 AM on March 2, 2013


That stripper on the cover of Small Change? That's a very young Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:18 AM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


it may be an understatement to say that Waits is prone to make up stories during interviews.

Which may well be the reason why an interview with Tom Waits is worth 10 interviews with the average rock star! I mean, really, that guy gives some hella good interview!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:33 AM on March 2, 2013


I liked his early Bukowski blues records. But for me, the magic happens around Swordfishtrombones, when he starts producing himself, adding a crazy band, and co-writing with Kathleen Brennan. Brennan really deserves a lot of credit for what the "Tom Waits" character eventually produced; what makes him so interesting is his fusion of American blues rhythms and sentiment with the storytelling lyrics and angular sonics of German cabaret, and the latter seems to very much be Brennan's contribution.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:12 AM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Okay - fans, track down and read the book on Swordfishtrombones from the 33 1/3 series. It's astoundingly well-written, gives a really good overview of Tom's biography and career up to that point, and somehow manages to sound not online Tom Waits himself - this is from the last couple pages, which is sort of a stream-of-consciousness imagining of "a day in the life":
Tom Waits sets out on the day and he takes big strides and his shadow is under its feet where it belongs. He feels like singing Joe Liggins' "Going Back to New Orleans" but when he opens his mouth a beetle flies in. He spits out crow feathers and puts them in his pocket.

[...]He takes a whole box of shells and scatters them over the furrowed field. There'll be a stand of scarecrows there by October, and they'll all talk like him and sleep in his hat.

He walks into town and sets his watch by the broken clock in the town square. He stops for coffee and donuts and his waitress brings him one named Cherry Vanilla. He reads the news and drinks his coffee. When he's done, he folds the paper until it's small, and he swears to Jesus over the little container of mixed berry jam, but he gets it open. Jesus helps with the big jams and the little jams. He spreads it on the enfolded news and washes it down with the last bit of coffee. A lot goes into Tom Waits.

He sets out into the afternoon and he takes long strides, and he leaves the town behind. He steps over cars until he finds a field without cars. He sits in the bucket seat of an old Corvette and dreams in the heat of the day with his eyes wide open. He steals a spider web and puts it in his pocket.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:54 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think early on the Schtick was somewhat contrived and he was working hard at that persona and lifestyle. Not that I do not wholeheartedly enjoy the music from that period. I think later it's still an act but its part of the showbiz aspect, although he hates showbiz. Maybe it's part of the show, he is without a doubt a great showman. At the end of the day I really want to know what he is like on a lazy Sunday or Wednesday night at home.
posted by Che boludo! at 11:58 AM on March 2, 2013


Also, I really want him to write his autobiography and it's all lies, bizarre stories, and unknown and obscene tidbits about animals.

Tomtales
posted by Che boludo! at 12:03 PM on March 2, 2013


"Brennan really deserves a lot of credit for what the "Tom Waits" character eventually produced"

You can say that again. After staring, over and over, at the distance between Heartattack and Vine and Swordfishtrombones - three short years and a thousand miles apart - I've come to the conclusion that Brennan is some sort of a miracle. In fact, the more I look at where Waits was pre- and post-Brennan the more I'm convinced that the majority of "his" music is hers. When asked during interviews about their collaborative efforts he's usually coy, saying something like, "Oh, you know, it's like "you wash, I'll dry."" I believe that she's doing an awful lot of washing.
posted by komara at 1:02 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tom Waits Shows Us How Not to Get a Date on Valentine’s Day
posted by homunculus at 2:11 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Big time is on Netflix streaming but it looks and sounds pretty terrible. It's a crime it hasn't been redone and released on DVD. If they would just release that and Michael Mann's The Keep, I sould die a happy man.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:05 PM on March 2, 2013


Robert Crumb is right, and wrong. There is an old-timey schtick. And yet, that Tom Waits (the first, Bukowski versus the Art Noise later one), made some absolutely great tunes that hold up. Tom Traubert's Blues, Heart of Saturday Night, Ghost of Saturday Night, Martha....

Couldn't agree more. But I am slightly bemused about the Bukowski-pastiche suggestions, though -- early Waits was clearly sticking his lyrical flag in the Beat Poet camp, 15 years after the fact, specifically and heart-sleeve Kerouacian, I think. I mean sure, the Bukowski aesthetic (if that's an actual Thing) informed his act, but I think only to the extent that Bukowski owed a debt to the beats as well.

I've come to the conclusion that Brennan is some sort of a miracle.

For me, more of a tragedy (though I recognize I am somewhat of an outlier here). I continue to labour, as I have for years, to just plain enjoy latter-era Waits as much as the earlier, more middle-of-the-road stuff, but I fear my tastes are simply not sophisticated enough. I appreciate what he is doing, and respect it enormously, but I just don't enjoy listening to it all that much. Yet. I keep trying, though, and I'm still happy to go back to Nighthawks (or whatever) at regular intervals and just drink it in.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:28 PM on March 3, 2013


Internet has been won folks : Nyan Waits
posted by jeffburdges at 8:57 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


it may be an understatement to say that Waits is prone to make up stories during interviews.

Perhaps it's just confabulation brought on by Korsakoff's syndrome.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:47 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perhaps it's just confabulation brought on by Korsakoff's syndrome.

I know he drank, but I'm not sure he drank quite that much.

Besides, his making up stories is clearly because he's hiding the fact that he's a Time Lord.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:53 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


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