Waits for Nonsequitors
May 7, 2008 8:24 PM   Subscribe

Incidentally, the tour is real
posted by ornate insect at 8:28 PM on May 7, 2008

dude, that's my dining room. wtf.
posted by wantwit at 8:30 PM on May 7, 2008

Tom Waits is coming to Phoenix?

Oh, man, I am so there!

Now the only problem is convincing someone to go with me. I don't know anyone who's into Tom Waits, and I don't drink or do drugs anymore, and how do you explain Tom Waits when you're not high?
posted by MrVisible at 8:36 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Tom Waits is a living national treasure, and a glorious ramshackle mess of infinite dimensions. We should all be blessed to have him throw some confetti in our hair, fry us up a piece of oily fish, and roll us down the hill in an old oil barrel. Committing all manner of magnificent misdemeanor, impeccably stumbling from one door to another, his voice has holes in its shoes and someday will swallow up the whole of the universe, or at least Cleveland. Mash up the crickets and the lemon grass! Bring another bottle down! Here's to you, Tom!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:39 PM on May 7, 2008 [31 favorites]

Oh. That's how. Okay!
posted by MrVisible at 8:41 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'd be happier if there were room in Tom's constellation for Southern California.
posted by PM at 8:42 PM on May 7, 2008

MrVisible--when I lived in PHX back in the late 1980s there was a rumor that Waits used to play the club the Mason Jar, and that the lyrics to his song The Piano Has Been Drinking that run "and the owner is just a mental midget, with the I.Q. of a fencepost," had been written in reference to that club's owner.

And speaking of tours and Phoenix, the great and legendary underground band of pranksters, the Sun City Girls (who started in Phoenix), are touring soon, as a tribute to the recent passing of their drummer.
posted by ornate insect at 8:45 PM on May 7, 2008

apropos of absolutely nothing, and totally unrelated to this thread, did anyone else read this crazy piece in today's NYT about the crow infestion currently plaguing Japan? It's worth a read, with Hitchcock-like gems such as:

Attacks, though rare, do happen. Hungry crows have bloodied the faces of children while trying to steal candy from their hands. Crows have even carried away baby prairie dogs and ducklings from Tokyo zoos, city officials said.

Crows have also shown a surprising ability to disrupt Japan’s super-modern technological infrastructure. In the last two years, utility companies in Tokyo reported almost 1,400 cases of crows cutting fiber optic cables, apparently to use as materials for nests. Blackouts have become common nationwide, including one last year in the northern prefecture of Akita that briefly shut down high-speed bullet train service.

In 2001, the city began setting traps in parks and nature reserves, using raw meat as a lure. In the following seven years, the city captured more than 93,000 crows, which it killed by sticking the meat in trash bags filled with poison gas.
posted by ornate insect at 8:53 PM on May 7, 2008 [4 favorites]

Tom, if you come to New York I'll fix you up with a splendid hot open face turkey sandwich (fixins including reconstituted spuds, corn from a dented can and a reluctant white flour gravy), also a long drink from a terrible bottle. Think about it boss... shit is tough all over.

New York, Please, We need you.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:56 PM on May 7, 2008

Mr. Waits, I wish you were in New Orleans.
posted by honeydew at 9:01 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Great Tom Waits appearance on Fernwood 2 Night. Also features Fred Willard.
posted by Kattullus at 9:02 PM on May 7, 2008

That press conference was like... not real, right? Staged, yes?
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:05 PM on May 7, 2008

citrusfrak2--did you watch it to the very end? The very end makes it clear to anyone who's still unsure.
posted by ornate insect at 9:06 PM on May 7, 2008

I saw him in Detroit in 2006.


I'm going to try to see him in Columbus this time out, but I worry that gas will prove to be too much if I can't find people to carpool with.
posted by sparkletone at 9:13 PM on May 7, 2008

Another tour this summer worth mentioning is X (w/the Detroit Cobras opening)
posted by ornate insect at 9:24 PM on May 7, 2008

how do you explain Tom Waits when you're not high?

I've almost never been high, and I love his music to the ends of the earth. It might help that I'm a musician, though.
posted by davejay at 9:39 PM on May 7, 2008

ah, but loving and explaining are two different things ; ) although, yeah, the "one must do LSD to appreciate Beefheart" or whatever, is pretty tired.
posted by ornate insect at 9:42 PM on May 7, 2008

It won't be the first time I've hopped a transpacific flight to see the man perform his ramshackle lyrical poetry...I'm already trying to work out the logistics of getting my hands on concert tickets.

(Sparkletone, I don't think you'll have *any* trouble finding people willing to share that ride if you simply put the word out in your area.)
posted by squasha at 9:45 PM on May 7, 2008

a transpecific or a trancepacific flight would be even better
posted by ornate insect at 9:47 PM on May 7, 2008

Waits used to play the club the Mason Jar, and that the lyrics to his song The Piano Has Been Drinking that run "and the owner is just a mental midget, with the I.Q. of a fencepost," had been written in reference to that club's owner.

Fuckin' Franco. I've heard that story to and having known the guy, I give it some credence.

He's damn near a physical midget, too.
posted by padraigin at 9:47 PM on May 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

Wait...Tom waits is real?

I kid.
Pescajamba, everybody!
posted by vrakatar at 9:48 PM on May 7, 2008

The Phoenix shows went on sale today, just two days after the announcement, which I missed. Tickets are already being scalped for $400-$950. My black little heart, it is full of hate.
posted by gngstrMNKY at 10:08 PM on May 7, 2008

If anybody is talking to him, remind him of the great times he'll have up here..
posted by sporb at 10:10 PM on May 7, 2008

gngstrMNKY--I wouldn't pay that kind of money to see Shiva and Aphrodite mudwrestle in a lunar cavern to the sound of the Banana Splits.
posted by ornate insect at 10:19 PM on May 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

vrakatar--I believe that's PEHDTSCKJMBA
posted by ornate insect at 10:40 PM on May 7, 2008

I believe that's PEHDTSCKJMBA

yeah, i'm doin it now and its good. I'm not weird or anything about it. I don't tie myself up first.
posted by vrakatar at 10:47 PM on May 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

He's playing in TULSA? At the Old Lady On Brady?

I might think about flying back for it, if they weren't $77.50.. plus $300 RT for the flight.
posted by dw at 10:49 PM on May 7, 2008

transpecific or a trancepacific

heh. I took the one to reach the others. PEHDTSCKJMBA, indeed.

I don't expect to be this lucky twice in my life, but for the 1995 show, I bought my tickets in the parking lot across the street from the Paramount...from a group of his neighbors that had driven down from Cotati and bought extra tickets in case they met up with friends in need. They just happened to be parking in the lot at the same time that we were and charged us the price printed on the tickets. They loved that I'd flown in from Japan with my fingers crossed despite the fact that the show was sold out. They said their karma wouldn't let them take a profit on a benefit, anyway.

I'm not saying I'd be willing to pay $400-$950, but I definitely owe the universe a little something.
posted by squasha at 10:58 PM on May 7, 2008

What's the tune that plays at the very end of the press conference video?
posted by hades at 11:15 PM on May 7, 2008

hades--the snippet of accordian and trumpet I don't recognize offhand, but maybe someone else does; any takers?
posted by ornate insect at 11:22 PM on May 7, 2008

Yeah, that's the one. I recognize it as the music used by Godfrey Daniels in his performances at the Moisture Festival in Seattle, but that's a different recording, and I've never heard it any other context.
posted by hades at 11:33 PM on May 7, 2008

(Listening to the audio from his VH1 Storytellers performance even now. I sure wish anywhere within 500 miles of Seattle were part of that constellation. *sigh*)
posted by hades at 11:35 PM on May 7, 2008

That's Just Another Sucker On The Vine, from Swordfishtrombones.
posted by MrVisible at 11:36 PM on May 7, 2008

Cool rotoscoped animation of The one that got away which I posted previously.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:50 PM on May 7, 2008

Wait...Tom waits is real?

He's what Santa Claus turns into when you stop believing in Santa Claus.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:00 AM on May 8, 2008 [15 favorites]

Separated at birth?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:12 AM on May 8, 2008

I hadn't listened to Tom Waits before. It's like Nick Cave made death metal.
posted by stavrogin at 12:34 AM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Awesome, thanks, MrVisible! Apparently, I've never listened to Swordfishtrombones. I'll have to hunt down a copy.
posted by hades at 12:36 AM on May 8, 2008

OMG, this is turning out to be the best year ever for music with all my heroes playing gigs over here... Nick Cave, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and now Tom Waits... can't believe it!
posted by twistedonion at 1:26 AM on May 8, 2008

I like the cut of your jib, twistedonion.
posted by Optamystic at 1:40 AM on May 8, 2008

Mr. Waits, I wish you were in New Orleans.

"I Wish New Orleans was dry and Washington was underwater."

- Tom Waits, 2005
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:55 AM on May 8, 2008

Tom Waits is always extremely entertaining as an interviewee. Here he is on Fresh Air, kind of freaking out Terri Gross, and here's one he did with the Onion after Alice and Blood Money came out (they have the good sense to ask him "what's the most outrageous lie you've ever told a reporter?").
posted by whir at 2:03 AM on May 8, 2008

I hadn't listened to Tom Waits before.

Actually, if you've listened to pop music over the thirty or so years, you probably have. He's been a really prolific and good song writer and been covered by lots and lots of people. (cf. Wikipedia entry).
posted by From Bklyn at 2:08 AM on May 8, 2008

I hadn't listened to Tom Waits before.

Oh, man, I wish I could say that. All that glorious growling ramshacklery to discover all over again. I envy you.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:28 AM on May 8, 2008

The real genius of Tom Waits is that, with average musical skills (he's essentially someone who has listened to a lot of stuff that his faithful fan base, ie the average sons of the petit-bourgeoisie never have, period -- and he's also, incidentally, someone whose lack of a voice could render tuneless any musical composition in history) has worked the hobo look and the drunken antics and the Jarmusch connection into a baffling sort of cult status -- he's Frank Zappa without the genius, Bukowski without the poetry.

He is indeed a genius of something, though -- a genius of branding and marketing, much more than the American Idol perpetrators will ever be -- he's mainly famous for having blown out his voice before his career ever began, and for pretending to be -- or actually being, it's irrelevant -- drunk all the time while singing stuff that's supposed to be deep. He sells a cheap version of vaudeville transgression to people who clearly need more of it in their lives -- he takes the world's smoking and boozing upon himself so that you don't have to actually do it, but simply support his sacrifice by buying his records. He's a merchant of cool more than anything else (and yeah he sued the potato chip people -- while simultaneously allowing fucking Rod Stewart and the fucking Eagles to fart their way through his allegedly cherished songs).

The indie film cred was just the cherry on top -- he made himself essentially invulnerable to criticism because if you don't like him you must be uncool and nobody wants to be uncool, ever -- it's the first rule of pretension, after all. But more power to him for that, he has built a very nice long career for himself with extremely limited skills -- much like Madonna, on a smaller scale obviously, but when you think about it the nechanism's the same.

And yeah, I know, I'm a hater and I am therefore uncool, fuck you, too, buddy
posted by matteo at 2:44 AM on May 8, 2008 [4 favorites]

Inevitably, your favorite X sucks.

I don't think you could be more wrong about Waits' influence and talent, in broad sweep or detail, matteo, but it's fine that you think so. De gustibus non est disputandum.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:50 AM on May 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

Tom Waits a genius of Branding and Marketing. Brilliant, hadn't heard that before.

I don't think you are uncool, just trying to be cooler than the coolest. That's fine, but you are wrong.

You reckon Frank Zappa is a genius and so do I. But really, Titties and beer, Jewish Princess... a lot of people who didn't get Zappa would think there was no genius, just nonsense there. Maybe you just don't get Waits. Genius he certainly is though.

He tells amazing stories and I love him for that.
posted by twistedonion at 3:01 AM on May 8, 2008

Love both Waits and Zappa for that actually.
posted by twistedonion at 3:02 AM on May 8, 2008

matteo writes: I'm a hater and I am therefore uncool, fuck you, too, buddy.

I wouldn't assign you or anyone else "cool" or "uncool" status based solely on your personal preferences in music, so your preemptive "fuck you", aside from being a stupid thing to say, was entirely unnecessary.

Nor do I especially care one way or another about your opinions on Waits' validity (or whatever) as an artist. But this?

"...and yeah he sued the potato chip people -- while simultaneously allowing fucking Rod Stewart and the fucking Eagles to fart their way through his allegedly cherished songs"

That's just ignorant. Just plain ignorant. THe sued Frito Lay because they used a very close sound-alike in a commercial, and there was the very real possibility that listeners would believe it was Waits hawking corn chips. The man understandably didn't want that, was well within his rights to sue, and a jury agreed with him. Having other artists cover your songs, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter and cannot be compared to the actions of a corporate entity using "your" voice.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:03 AM on May 8, 2008

I, for one, am quite pleased that there is at least *one* person with whom I will not need to be competing with for tickets.

I don't agree with your assessment, but I don't think that makes you uncool, just differing in mind-set and opinion. Posting your take in a thread filled with so much adoration seems, well, deliberately pugnacious...but whatever floats that boat of yours.
posted by squasha at 3:04 AM on May 8, 2008

Don’t Wait For Tom

He’s got the hands of a blind piano player
He’s got a feel for the dark like a soothsayer
He takes a little bow and tips his fedora
Shouts like he’s gonna save Sodom and Gomorrah

Workin’ for the circus X railroad bum
Carnival barker for kingdom dot come
Dusty ol’ Gibson opposable thumb
Bangs out the rhythm on a 50-gallon drum

Don’t wait for Tom
Tom’s long gone
He’s already moved on
Don’t wait for Tom
I saw an ol’ ’55 Buick
Just before dawn
I said, Hey, hey Tom
The sun’s comin’ up
You got your wipers on

Are you tryna make it rain again?
Are you tryna make it rain again?
Is it rainin’ just around your bend?
Are you tryna make it rain again?

Sittin’ in a corner with his pet muskrat
Tossin’ his cards into an old man’s hat
He grins at the girls and they always grin back
He bets an old waltz he could get ‘em in the sack

He makes his own music from the bell of a ‘bone
A waitress’s falsie and a railroad phone
Bobs on his knees to an old tarantella
South of the border he stole it from a fella

Don’t wait for Tom…
His triple-jointed juke fingers splay like a scarecrow
He kneels down and whistles to a fallen sparrow
His eyes light up when they wheel in a piano
He reads a dirty joke out of an old Baptist hymnal

He wears a tuxedo made of sackcloth and ashes
Has a tattoo of a girl who can bat her eyelashes
Down on the river he was fishin’ with a sword
He knocked off John the Baptist for a word from the Lord

He takes his coffee with the blood of a turnip
Blushes his cheeks with an Amsterdam tulip
Choppin’ up a rooster for a pullet surprise
If the gravy don’t getcha he’ll getcha with his eyes

Hey Tom

- Over The Rhine "Don't Wait For Tom"

posted by chuckdarwin at 3:47 AM on May 8, 2008

Waits > Zappa, but both are allowed in my house.

Best SLYT post ever.
posted by rokusan at 5:53 AM on May 8, 2008

The Tom Waits show in Akron a while back was hands-down one of the best shows I've ever seen -- and then he drove an hour north to Cleveland and did it all again until 3 in the morning at the House of Blues. I wish like crazy we'd had tickets for the second show, too. He's amazing live.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:09 AM on May 8, 2008

The piano has been drinking.

Not me.
posted by tommasz at 6:23 AM on May 8, 2008

Dammit, why does he persistently refuse to come north of the Mason Dixon?
posted by xthlc at 6:31 AM on May 8, 2008

Well it's Ninth and Hennepin
All the doughnuts have names that sound like prostitutes
And the moon's teeth marks are on the sky
Like a tarp thrown all over this
And the broken umbrellas like dead birds
And the steam comes out of the grill
Like the whole goddamn town's ready to blow . . .
And the bricks are all scarred with jailhouse tattoos
And everyone is behaving like dogs
And the horses are coming down Violin Road
And Dutch is dead on his feet
And all the rooms they smell like diesel
And you take on the dreams of the ones who have slept there
And I'm lost in the window, and I hide in the stairway
And I hang in the curtain, and I sleep in your hat . . .
And no one brings anything small into a bar around here
They all started out with bad directions
And the girl behind the counter has a tattooed tear
One for every year he's away, she said
Such a crumbling beauty, ah
There's nothing wrong with her that a hundred dollars won't fix
She has that razor sadness that only gets worse
With the clang and the thunder of the Southern Pacific going by
And the clock ticks out like a dripping faucet
til you're full of rag water and bitters and blue ruin
And you spill out over the side to anyone who will listen . . .
And I've seen it all, I've seen it all
Through the yellow windows of the evening train . . .
posted by exlotuseater at 6:56 AM on May 8, 2008

Dammit, why does he persistently refuse to come north of the Mason Dixon?

Really? That's a shame. I was kinda hoping I could get the Monadnock Folklore Society to bring Tom to the Nelson Town Hall. We can pack in over a hundred folks and they never charge more than 10 bucks. Another dream is dying.
posted by Hobgoblin at 7:12 AM on May 8, 2008

Waits vs Zappa! Smackdown! Zappa's a better guitarist, and technically a better composer, but no one does soundscapes like Waits. Waits also has the advantage of still being alive, although that could be seen as a handicap because it's culturally taboo to speak ill of the dead...
posted by kozad at 7:35 AM on May 8, 2008

I sprang for nice tickets to his Nashville show at the Ryman in 2006 (my wife and I ended up in folding chairs dead center, about eight feet from Tom hisself - I could literally see his fillings when he opened his mouth), and Jesus Christ, what a night that was. Beg, borrow, or steal your way to one of these shows; he's only getting better with age.
posted by UKnowForKids at 7:55 AM on May 8, 2008

...faithful fan base, ie the average sons of the petit-bourgeoisie...

hahahahaha.... Seriously?
posted by Optamystic at 8:09 AM on May 8, 2008

I missed his show in Asheville a couple years ago due to one of those toxic combinations of poverty & lameness and I've rarely regretted missing something so damn much. I did make it to the pre & post parties with friends from all over who'd come to town just for it and they rubbed in the greatness without mercy. If he comes back I'm there this time.

Hehe, though, I've already got my X tickets! I have an extra one. . .
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:12 AM on May 8, 2008

I think the reason Waits has been resisting playing the East and West Coasts the past few years, and sticking to the South/Southwest, is the same reason Dylan plays so many out of the way places: because he can. Being essentially a romantic about America, anyway, Waits probably likes the idea of not playing the cultural "capitals" like NYC, SF, LA.

matteo--I would suggest reading the Waits wiki entry and listening to his early stuff. He only developed his boho persona, replete with its trademark growl (aka Howlin Wolf) and Bukowski-ish ramblings, gradually, and he started out more or less as a traditional singer-songwriter mining the Great American Songbook and looking to music pre-rock for inspiration. In this he was not unlike such figures as Randy Newman, Leon Redbone, Dr. John, even Jackson Brown or Joni Mitchell. Because Waits came up in the 1970s, when big labels were still cultivating mid-level singer-songwriters, and because the musical scene then was surprisingly more diverse than we remember, Waits developed a workmanlike approach to performing small clubs that was common to those struggling in the field. And he actually played in the kinds of dives and out of the way places that seem like nostalgic fantasy now, but were quite real back then. Even Hollywood was a far grittier and niorish place back then: like Time Square, it was full of prostitutes and a sense of faded glory. Waits apparently has all kinds of true stories about the characters he would meet on the road woven into his songs. So while he definitely has a schtick (Raymond Chandler meets Vaudville meets Brecht), it did not emerge out of suburban thin air. The man paid his dues, and appropriation is an old tradition in popular music, blues, C&W, etc. Today he seems like he cultivated his persona in retrospect, but my sense is he built it through some genuinely hardscrabble years.
posted by ornate insect at 8:18 AM on May 8, 2008 [4 favorites]

Sometimes his rain-train-insane is the next guy's moon-spoon-june, but it's a good schtick.
posted by TimTypeZed at 8:41 AM on May 8, 2008

I saw him play in 1999(?) at the Wiltern in LA. The show was spectacular. Winona Ryder sat in the seat in front of me and cried throughout all of The Heart of Saturday Night. It was weird and made me feel kinda sad for her, like, what Saturday was she crying about, you know?
And also, for what its worth, he is sober, and has been for quite a while.
posted by slickvaguely at 10:17 AM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Has he had a facelift?
posted by kenchie at 10:25 AM on May 8, 2008

Waits and Zappa, heh, considering this fact the Tulsa World pointed out:

This is indeed the first time Waits has performed in Oklahoma since he opened for Frank Zappa wayyyyyy back in 1974.
posted by dw at 11:07 AM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

January Man anyone?
posted by eatdonuts at 11:43 AM on May 8, 2008

Tom Waits is like an aged whiskey. If you try to casually take it down without forethought, out of mere curiosity, it stings and you say "who likes this shit?". But one day, your woman runs away and you're all alone. So you take a sip, and it stings as usual. But now you know why - cause the sting makes you feel again, and that's what you need.

Waits has been my aged whiskey for about 10 years now, and anyone who says he's over-hyped I'm convinced has never really needed him.
posted by revmitcz at 12:26 PM on May 8, 2008 [11 favorites]

Tom Waits... Ahhhhhhh. Now you're talking.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:30 PM on May 8, 2008

Dammit, Tom, come play for us Yankees!

I don't want to have to drive to Ohio.
posted by billypilgrim at 1:35 PM on May 8, 2008

citrusfrak2--did you watch it to the very end? The very end makes it clear to anyone who's still unsure.

1. That is a pretty cool/new interpretation of my name.
2. Damnit! No, I gave up 10 seconds from the end! Stupid me.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 1:35 PM on May 8, 2008

gngstrMNKY, are you sure about that?

In Louisville last time they sold out within ten minutes. But I got mine, and was four rows back. It was wonderful.

Maybe I can make Knoxville this time. Or maybe Columbus.
posted by dilettante at 1:38 PM on May 8, 2008

I love Tom Waits.

But that really wasn't funny at all.
posted by sic at 1:45 PM on May 8, 2008

The first song I heard him sing was "Singapore" from "Rain Dogs" and thought immediately of the Cookie Monster. So yeah, I was hooked.
posted by schmedeman at 3:09 PM on May 8, 2008

call me an apostate but ... ahem ... i don't get tom waits, spongebob cameo notwithstanding.

ok, flame on.
posted by liza at 5:22 PM on May 8, 2008

liza, you heretic! You should be aware that if you also do not "get" Leonard Cohen, ye shall be cast down out of heaven. That is, MetaFilter.

Hey, why do you think they made it blue?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:30 PM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Check out a Tom Waits timeline here.
posted by Sailormom at 9:51 PM on May 8, 2008

I saw Tom waits in 2006 in Memphis, front row dead center with the dust on the stage kicking up every time he pounded his foot to the beat. It was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and to be perfectly honest, I wasn't much of a fan before I saw him live. At one point I had taken a photo of him with my cell phone, but the song ended sooner than expected and while I was enthusiastically clapping with phone in hand, it fell to the floor and broke in half. Tom Waits rocked my phone in half.

Today I bought tickets to the Tulsa show, and again ended up lucky enough to get seats in the 6th row. I have an extra if any Mefite is interested in going to what will probably be the best show you'll ever see.
posted by Ugh at 12:09 PM on May 16, 2008

« Older A Methodologically Sound Hot Or Not?   |   The hyena, "our favorite animal" Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments