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Songs are just interesting things to do with the air.
July 8, 2009 9:54 AM   Subscribe

"You could be a doorstop or paperweight or maybe a national anthem." Beck talks to Tom Waits. Part of Irrelevant Topics: a new section [of Beck's web site] featuring conversations between musicians, artists, writers, etc. on various subjects, without promotional pretext or editorial direction.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy (23 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

BH: I was born in the McArthur park area.

TW: You remember when they drained McArthur Park, the lake?

BH: I do, yeah...

TW: They found unbelievable things: Cars, human bones, weaponry.

BH: They should have done an exhibit.

TW: I don't know why they didn't. I thought that's why they drained it.

BH: I'd always heard that when they drained the Echo Park Lake they found an amateur submarine.

TW: Oh, my God.

This is fantastic. Thanks!
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 10:02 AM on July 8, 2009

I will not rest until the day when Tom Waits and Henry Rollins have their own talk show. My god. I've been saying it for years. How AWESOME would that be?
posted by at 10:05 AM on July 8, 2009 [4 favorites]

gah... editor! it's "make do".
posted by RedEmma at 10:14 AM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

The city itself was named because the two guys who founded the town didn't let them use their names in the name of the town. They were too modest and they didn't let them use their names, so they called the town Modesto.

oh Tom Waits, I love you 'cause you're full of shit.
posted by shmegegge at 10:15 AM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's terrible, but I guess songs are just interesting things to do with the air.

I love this.
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 10:25 AM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, look. It's the title of the post. Oops.
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 10:26 AM on July 8, 2009

This is cool. Waits on making sure your songs stick around:

Your songs have to wind up being used as soundtracks to jump rope. Tapes will go, but people will still be jumping rope. They'll need tunes for jump rope.
posted by marxchivist at 10:27 AM on July 8, 2009

Ah, Wikipedia: "Modesto, originally a stop on the railroad connecting Sacramento to Los Angeles, was founded in 1870 and was to be named for William C. Ralston, financier of many projects in early California. However, he declined the suggestion and a Spanish-speaking railroad worker at the naming ceremony said that Ralston was "Muy modesto" (very modest). Thus, the town was named Modesto. It is unknown at this time if this story is mere folklore or actual fact, but considering that to the north there is a city named Manteca (Lard in Spanish) and to the south a city named Los Banos (The Bathroom), Modesto was very fortunate with its naming."
posted by schmedeman at 10:28 AM on July 8, 2009 [4 favorites]

oh my god, that's amazing!

oh Tom Waits, I love you because you're surprisingly not full of shit after all.
posted by shmegegge at 10:49 AM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I can't believe it's been 18 years since Fishing with John. Tom Waits is still amazing.
posted by explosion at 10:58 AM on July 8, 2009

Fishing with Jon! I was just telling someone about that the other day, specifically how DeFoe flips out at John because he has to go ice fishing in the freezing cold while everybody else got to relax in nice weather.
posted by shmegegge at 11:03 AM on July 8, 2009

Your songs have to wind up being used as soundtracks to jump rope.

I tried skipping rope to some Tom Waits songs... but really it's more like dragging a noose down the street.
posted by rokusan at 11:09 AM on July 8, 2009 [9 favorites]

Wait a minute. Is Fishing with John the genesis of the "fish in my pants" meme?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:09 AM on July 8, 2009

And in this week's edition of "ridiculously easy casting calls", we visit:

Tom Waits to Play The Devil in New Terry Gilliam Flick.
posted by rokusan at 11:13 AM on July 8, 2009

Tom Waits to Play The Devil in New Terry Gilliam Flick.
Don't you know there ain't no Devil - there's just God when he's drunk.
posted by Flunkie at 11:30 AM on July 8, 2009

TW: You got struck by lightning?
BH: No, I didn't. I was inside, but someone in the audience did. I heard this crash, and looked outside and the whole venue was streaming out with people.
TW: You lost your crowd.
BH: Yeah, they had to cancel the whole thing.
TW: That's what I hate about playing outdoors.

A dark cloud really -does- follow Waits around. Also, not "wow, your poor fan" but "wow, your poor gig."
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:31 AM on July 8, 2009

Weird...earlier this morning there was an introductory blurb from Beck about how in traditional interviews, editors are always cutting in to keep them off of "irrelevant topics", which blurb has now been removed. Couldn't help but think of this:

When asked if he's aware that his father is a Scientologist, Beck is obviously taken aback and pauses briefly to formulate a response.

"Um... no comment."

A split second later, Universal publicist Lani Fumerton, evidently monitoring the conversation on another line, breaks in. "Could we wrap up, please?"

(Of course the Scientology thing is well out of the bag, now, and though it still colors everything pertaining to Beck, this was an enjoyable read, thanks.)
posted by anazgnos at 11:37 AM on July 8, 2009

i don't know anything about beck and don't really care to learn. waits, though ... tom waits could belch & fart & i'd think it was most beautiful music i ever heard.
posted by msconduct at 12:38 PM on July 8, 2009

Hehe, a few years ago we took a three week long family-car-trip up the east side of the Sierras through Bishop and into Tahoe. Long drive, nice scenery, it's a great drive up route 395. Our kids were fairly young at the time, 10, 7, and 4, but they were pretty good for road trips.

We had a couple of CDs we had been wanting to listen to on the way. Beck's Sea Change and a Tom Waits CD, I think it was Mule Variations. When we played Beck, the car would get real quiet, and the kids would either fall asleep or just chill, staring out the windows as the desert turned into mountains. When we played Tom Waits, within minutes the kids would be screaming and crying, hitting each other and having a horrible, miserable time.

We didn't listen much to the Tom Waits CD. The kids still talk about Sea Change and how much they like it, and how it brings back fond memories of the trip. I love Tom Waits, but his music is powerful medicine, sometimes too much so.

How great to see them together just chatting.
posted by Xoebe at 12:47 PM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

that's a pretty great story.

my parents aren't that into most modern music. i think the most recently released thing my dad owns is a Diana Krall cd. otherwise it's all old Jazz Standards, and my mom's pretty much the same way.

the weirdest thing, though, was when I invited the family over the apartment one time, and had been playing Tom Waits' "Blood Money" on a low volume in the background, and my mom said "Is this Blood Money? I love this album!"

I still don't know how to respond to that, years later.
posted by shmegegge at 1:01 PM on July 8, 2009 [3 favorites]

tom waits could belch & fart & i'd think it was most beautiful music i ever heard.

I believe that's Filipino Box Spring Hog #7.
posted by rokusan at 2:56 PM on July 8, 2009

This is ever so much more interesting to read than, "So where did you get your inspiration for thus and such song?" interviews. I hope Tom Waits asks about Xenu in part 2, though.
posted by usonian at 5:38 AM on July 9, 2009

Beck has also been doing a Record Club, so far covering Velvet Underground songs.
posted by Roman Graves at 5:53 PM on July 9, 2009

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