If I exorcise my devils, well my angels may leave too
January 9, 2010 7:04 PM   Subscribe

In my struggle to walk the straight ‘n narrow everyday, it doesn’t help things any that the salty, taunting voice of Tom Waits is in my head saying, “Hey kid…. over here.” A couple of photographic retrospectives. “The Piano Has Been Drinking…” – Tom Waits, Your Inner Drunkard | and | 1950s-1960s Icons of Entertainment.
posted by netbros (19 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Hot damn, that man makes for a fine photograph.

Still, he doesn't drink any more so that should help the tempted teetotallers.
posted by twirlypen at 7:11 PM on January 9, 2010

at my most self-aggrandizing, I'll think of my hardest drinking days as some kind of spiritual identification with Tom Waits. But I also, inevitably, remember how much I have to regret from that period and can't help but wonder just how much more Mr. Waits must have buried in his past that he'd prefer not to remember.

it's not an especially deep insight, but it's a sobering reminder nonetheless.
posted by shmegegge at 7:55 PM on January 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

This may be going off a tangent just a little, but...

Over the years I have liked the direction Waits has gone, I like his recent stuff more than older stuff*, with the possible exception of some stuff around Frank's Wild Years, and parts of Nighthawks can be sublime. I also think that the reason he has been able to continue to evolve for so long is partially because he has kicked the heavy drinking and smoking that so characterized his early life, I suspect this is due to Kathleen Brennan, from all accounts adding the two together was the best thing that could have happened to Tom and I, for one love the results.

* yeah not everyone agrees with this assertions, but this is subjective.
posted by edgeways at 8:32 PM on January 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

When I tried my 'Drink Like Tom' phase, I found that my insights were not insightful like Tom Waits'. They were just plain mean. After looking over a journal I kept through a weekend of drinking, I was shocked at what I saw. It was crude, rude, harsh for no reason. I had missed the point of that Platonic Waitsian Drunk. His drunken scenescapes were not kind on the societal level, but they were noble on the personal. Mine were just plain not kind.

It was a harsh blow to learn that I could not drink as my idol. I ripped up that journal and threw it away.

Sometime later, I found a new drinking idol that fit my approach better. Fictional though he may be, Inspector Morse is much more my speed. Crass by nature but not by intent. Does his best thinking after a few, but often errs into more than that, thus losing the benefit of a few well poured pints. I'm lucky in that, unlike Morse, I have the support of friends and a wonderful spouse, so that while I may never be able to figure out which daughter of Cain stole the jewel that was ours from the banks of the third mile, I will always be able to get behind the mule, resist Temptation, and never needa growww up thanks to my previous guru's wisdom.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:52 PM on January 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Did I have a different copy of "Blue Valentine" from everyone else, or did I just perceive the speaker in Tom Waits' songs differently?
posted by crataegus at 9:30 PM on January 9, 2010

Waits' struggles with chocoholism have inspired me.
posted by benzenedream at 11:51 PM on January 9, 2010

Great representation of Tom Waits in photographs, but am I the only one that finds blog posts filled with uncredited photos a problem? It doesn't appear that any effort at all has been taken to give credit where credit is due, or at the very least link back to the images instead of essentially stealing them and storing copies for their own benefit.

Google Image Search is not a grab bag for the taking. Show some respect for the people that took the time to actually take these pictures and, if you're not going to pay for them (as in most cases you really should) have the decency to put their names down and leave the images where you found them.

I mean really. One image actually had the photographer's name in the filename when you downloaded it, renamed it and showed it off.
posted by PeterOA at 12:54 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am primarily musically agnostic, but Tom Waits is great.

At a local Huddle House they have some Tom Waits on the Internet-enabled jukebox. One of the tracks is like 45 minutes long! We have been known to use it both defensively (because there are times when you just don't want to listen to a run of ten country songs and you can see them walking in the door) and, if the need arises, offensively.
posted by JHarris at 2:11 AM on January 10, 2010

From the same site, there is also the awesome semi-secret fraternity of the Sons of Lee Marvin.
posted by Verdant at 3:23 AM on January 10, 2010

Was Waits actually an alcoholic? I always assumed that part, like the rest of his persona, was kind of an act.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:36 AM on January 10, 2010

So if I was starting with Tom Waits, what album(s) should I go with?
posted by inigo2 at 8:42 AM on January 10, 2010

Was Waits actually an alcoholic? I always assumed that part, like the rest of his persona, was kind of an act.

"I put a lot into 'Bad Liver and a Broken Heart'... I tried to resolve a few things as far as this cocktail-lounge, maudlin, crying-in-your-beer image that I have. There ain't nothin' funny about about a drunk. You know I was really starting to believe that there was something amusing and wonderfully American about a drunk. I ended up telling myself to cut that shit out. On top of everything else, talking about boozing substantiates the rumors that people hear about you, and people hear that I'm a drunk. So I directed that song as much to the people that listen to me and think they know me as to myself." - Rolling Stone, 1997

"Waits and [Dustin] Hoffman had been friends since the late seventies, when they met through Bette Midler. Hoffman was in the middle of getting a divorce and staying at a cheap hotel. Midler brought Waits to visit, and as Waits explained to the audience [In 2003], "Dustin was sitting at a piano playing, and there was a lot of alcohol involved." Hoffman recalled the situation of their meeting to the crowd as well: "Tom sang all the songs from his album 'Closing Time'... And you know, Tom, there wasn't just alcohol involved."... Later in the evening, Waits proudly pointed out that those days were past him; he hadn't drunk any alcohol in ten years." - Wild Years, by Jay S. Jacobs
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:53 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

inigo2: others may have different suggestions, but for me, the place to start with Tom Waits will always be Rain Dogs. (I'm on my way out the door, otherwise I would write a small dissertation as to why this is so.)
posted by scody at 11:00 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

scody: That's where I started, actually, but it was mostly by accident. I'd love to know more.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:58 PM on January 10, 2010

I would say the essential triad is Rain Dogs, Swordfishtrombones, and Frank's Wild Years. But, as with everything, everyone has a different opinion. He essentially has two big phases, the piano playing singer-songwriter, and the junkyard orchestral. I'm a much bigger fan of the latter.
posted by nevercalm at 2:39 PM on January 10, 2010

The heartsleeve Kerouacian excess of his writing, especially early on, is still something I wish I could match, but as the years tick by, it becomes increasingly clear that I probably never will.

Ah well. At least I've still got the booze and the baritone.

Or the baritone, at least.

Until the tobacco's gone.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:28 PM on January 10, 2010

Hey stav, we still need to take strong beverages some time when yr in Seoul.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:25 AM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm kind of obligated to comment and saying that I love Tom Waits would be kind of redundant.

Really, this comment is totally pointless except ZOMG TOM WAITS.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:25 AM on January 11, 2010

inigo2: As a person recently introduced to Tom Waits, I like the recent noisy stuff, especially Mule Variations and Orphans Disc 1 (Brawlers).
posted by dreamyshade at 12:16 PM on January 11, 2010

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