Tom Waits

Tom Waits

God"s Away On Business


My Gravelly Voice

There's no one really in show business in my family but there were two relatives who had an effect on me very young and shaped me in some way. They were Uncle Vernon and Uncle Robert. I always hated the sound of my voice when I was a kid. I always wanted to sound more like my Uncle Vernon, who had a raspy, gravelly voice. Everything Uncle Vernon said sounded important, and you always got it the first time because you wouldn't dare ask him to repeat it.Eventually, I learned that Uncle Vernon had had a throat operation as a kid and the doctors had left behind a small pair of scissors and gauze when they closed him up. Years later at Christmas dinner, Uncle Vernon started to choke while trying to dislodge an errant string bean, and he coughed up the gauze and the scissors. That's how Uncle Vernon got his voice, and that's how I got mine

Hold On


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Card

hey Charley I'm pregnant
and living on 9-th street
right above a dirty bookstore
off cuclid avenue
and I stopped taking dope
and I quit drinking whiskey
and my old man plays the trombone
and works out at the track.
and he says that he loves me
even though its not his baby
and he says that he'll raise him up
like he would his own son
and he gave me a ring
that was worn by his mother
and he takes me out dancin
every saturday nite.
and hey Charley I think about you
everytime I pass a fillin' station
on account of all the grease
you used to wear in your hair
and I still have that record
of little anthony & the imperials
but someone stole my record player
how do you like that?
hey Charley I almost went crazy
after mario got busted
so I went back to omaha to
live with my folks
but everyone I used to know
was either dead or in prison
so I came back in minneapolis
this time I think I'm gonna stay.
hey Charley I think I'm happy
for the first time since my accident
and I wish I had all the money
that we used to spend on dope
I'd buy me a used car lot
and I wouldn't sell any of em
I'd just drive a different car
every day dependin on how I feel.
hey Charleyfor chrissakes
do you want to know
the truth of it?I don't have a husband
he don't play the trombone
and I need to borrow money
to pay this lawyer
and Charley, heyI'll be eligible for parole
come valentines day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

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Knocky Parker told Bowlegged Sal They all know how to kick it in Cal They're playing this dope and this-a money tune Dancing baby with a 7 mile broom Things are bulging out the rafters like hell Down there at the Hush Hotel They’re jumping right out of their seats, dancing to the bran’ new beat Do……the Metropolitan Glide Do……the Metropolitan Glide

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Take Me Home

Even an old clotheshorse like me succombs to silly girls

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Science of Sound

Great sound engineers are like scientists. They don't make value judgements. What's interesting about working with great engineers is that if you stop by the side of the road and drag something out of the ditch, throw it in the truck and bring it down to the studio, these guys will circle it like it's a moon rock. They'll mic it, hit it with a hammer, and find out the most expeditious way to approach it. Move it around to different parts of the room. They don't make value judgements. They're more like scientists. They get very subjective about the whole issue of sound. But you don't really know when you're going in what you're looking for. Sometimes you find it while you're there.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Latest Dialogue: King of the Nightowls

This Old Clotheshorse has been moderating the Keeper of the Boneyard's Forums. Here is the latest dialogue:

Tom Waits is probably the most underrated songwriter & musician of my lifetime. He’s one of the most wonderful there is. I, uh, thought his wife was from Illinois? (And a different song) Or maybe that’s a different wife. Or she moved, who knows. Tom Waits is a jersey girl? Well there you see the perils of rewriting the last half of a paragraph without looking at the first half. G’night folks! Tom Waits is an over rated pianist or should I say penis! Leon Redbone. I play with the current bass player for Tom Waits. Waits is an interesting guy. Bless you Tom. Tom Waits has more talent in one finger than everybody else on the current Billboard Hot 100…have you ever seen him in concert, this guy makes the hair on my neck stand up…I have every CD he’s ever made. To me he’s up there with Dylan…He should run for president with maybe Paris Hilton as his vice president…they’d make a lovely pair..Personally, I agree w. everyone here that Waits is a national treasure. Closest I ever got to him was sharing a baggage carousel for a NY/LA flight that got in around 3AM LA time. I thought that was appropriate considering he’s the king of the night owls.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blending Up The Entrails

This old clotheshorse gets up in the morning, lifts the lid on the blender and pours in some skimmed milk, a spoonful of frozen yogurt, a mix of fruit, orange juice, and maybe a handful of flax seed, and he's ready to face the day.

What about the Keeper of the Boneyard he wondered?

''Most songwriters, you can trace back what they've been listening to,'' the Keeper said. ''It's like you can go through the entrails of any animal and tell what the last three days were like. How do you reconcile your irreconcilable musical desires and dreams and wishes and memories? You may not be able to make one thing out of it. I think I feel more comfortable trying to visit different places. I don't know if I have anything that I've made that's a synthesis of the things I love. I don't think I leave it in the blender long enough.''

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bogart and Bergman Mold Jell-O

So you think about the influence of spouses, how they shape your otherwise shapeless lives, and so you think about Kathleen Brennan, and you wonder as you do about the collaborative process, and it comes out something like this:

Oh! Well, you know, "You wash, I'll dry." It all comes down to making choices and a lot of decisions. You know, are we gonna do a song about our cruise ship, or a meadow, or a brothel, or... just a rhapsody, or is it a parlor song or a work song or a field holler? What is it? The form itself is like a Jell-O mold. It's like doing anything that you would do with someone. "You hold it right there while I hit it," or the other way around. You find a rhythm in the way of working. I trust her opinion above all else. You've gotta have somebody to trust, that knows a lot. She's done a lot of things. I'm Ingrid Bergman and she's Bogart. She's got a pilot's license, and she was gonna be a nun before we got married. I put an end to that. She knows about everything from motorcycle repair to high finance, and she's an excellent pianist. One of the leading authorities on the African violet. She's a lot of strong material. She's like Superwoman, standing there with her cape flapping. It works. We've been at this for some time now. Sometimes you quarrel, and it's the result of irritation, and sometimes it comes out of the ground like a potato and we marvel at it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Everything You Can Think Of Is True

everything you can think of is true
before the ocean was blue
you were lost in a flood
run red with your blood's nigerian skeleton crew
everything you can think of is true
the dish ran away with the spoon
dig deep in your heart for that little red glow
we're decomposing as we go
everything you can think of is true
and fishes make wishes on you
we're fighting our way up dreamland's spine
with black flamingos, expensive wine
everything you can think of is true
the baby's asleep in your shoe
your teeth are buildings with yellow doors
your eyes are fish on a creamy shore

The Piano Has Been Drinking

The piano has been drinking, my necktie is asleep
And the combo went back to New York, the jukebox has to take a leak
And the carpet needs a haircut, and the spotlight looks like a prison break
And the telephone's out of cigarettes, and the balcony is on the make
And the piano has been drinking,

the piano has been drinking... And the menus are all freezing, and the light man's blind in one eye
And he can't see out of the other
And the piano-tuner's got a hearing aid, and he showed up with his mother
And the piano has been drinking,
the piano has been drinking As the bouncer is a sumo wrestler cream-puff casper milktoast /And the owner is a mental midget with the IQ of a fence post /'cause the piano has been drinking, the piano has been drinking...

And you can't find your waitress with a Geiger counter
And she hates you and your friends and you just can't get served without her
And the box-office is drooling, and the bar stools are on fire
And the newspapers were fooling, and the ash-trays have retired
because the piano has been drinking, the piano has been drinking
The piano has been drinking, not me, not me, not me, not me, not me...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Only Mary Loves Tom Waits: Truth Conditionals

This old clotheshorse has a real interest in the structure of language and as such an interest in Truth Conditionals.

Do not be alarmed, the Keeper of the Boneyard himself, Mr. T. Waits, is no slouch with Truth Conditionals

Bone Machine: A Musical Apocalypse

This old clotheshorse is interested in Tom Wait's use of music as an exploration of self. Interesting to take this a step further and to consider the self in the Apocalypse. Thus goes Angela Jones paper of Bone Machine:

Musical Apocalypse: Tom Waits’ Bone Machine

"As a popular musical re-presentation of apocalypse, Bone Machine, like Derrida’s
apocalyptic tone, can be understood as registering an idea of the apocalyptic as process
and movement, wherein the act of revelation is conceived as a continual, often turbulent
and confusing, unveiling. The result is an understanding of apocalypse which is not
simply an ending to a narrative trajectory, nor which relies on genre-specific imagery or
themes; on the contrary, Bone Machine’s apocalyptic tone constantly disrupts and
destabilizes the eschatological visions and imagery detailed in the lyrics, drawing
attention back to itself as a revelatory gesture which nonetheless obscures as much as it
reveals. I believe that Bone Machine can be interpreted as offering a popular musical
perspective on the apocalypse, thus opening up new and subversive ways of engaging
with this seemingly timeless (and tireless) cultural theme..."

For other clotheshorses with courage, read on:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Coat of Paint

New Coat of Paint

Let's put a new coat of paint
On this lonesome old town
Set em' up, we'll be knockin' 'em down
You wear a dress
Baby I'll a tie
We'll laugh at that old bloodshot moon
In that burgundy sky

All our scribbled love dreams are lost or thrown away
Here amidst the shuffle of an overflowin' day
Our love needs a transfusion let's shoot it full of wine
Fishin' for a good time starts with throwin' in your line.

So let's put a new coat of paint
On this lonesome old town
Set em' up, set em' up we'll be knockin' 'em down
You wear a dress baby
I'll wear a tie
We'll laugh at that old bloodshot moon
In that burgundy sky

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Minutiae of Things - How Do You Like Your Eggs?

Dead Beat was born in a salvage yard, raised in a pawn shop.

"I'm interested in things when I don't know what they are. Like "Hey, Ray, what the hell is this?" Oh, that's lipstick from the 1700s, that's dog food from the turn of the century, that's a hat from World War II. I'm interested in the minutiae of things. Oddities."

"And you bring those into your music?"

"I think it lets you incorporate your own voice into the voice of the instrument. By nature, I think we're all curious and looking for mutations all the time. It's not peculiar to me. I guess it's a question of taste. How do you like your eggs?"

Hard boiled has got to be the answer

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Captain Beefheart

The roughest diamond in the mine, his musical inventions are made of bone and mud. Enter the strange matrix of his mind and lose yours. This is indispensable for the serious listener. An expedition into the centre of the earth, this is the high jump record that'll never be beat, it's a merlot reduction sauce. He takes da bait. Dante doing the buck and wing at a Skip James suku jump. Drink once and thirst no more.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Get Behind The Mule

Get Behind the Mule

Molly be damned smote Jimmy the Harp With a horrid little pistol and a lariat She's goin to the bottom And she's goin down the drain Said she wasn't big enough to carry it She got to get behind the Mule In the morning and plow She got to get behind the Mule In the morning and plow She got to get behind the Mule In the morning and plow She got to get behind the Mule In the morning and plow Choppity chop goes the axe in the woods You gotta meet me by the fall down tree Shovel of dirt upon a coffin lid And I know they'll come lookin for me boys And I know they'll come a-lookin for me Got to get behind the Mule In the morning and plow Got to get behind the Mule In the morning and plowGot to get behind the MuleIn the morning and plowGot to get behind the MuleIn the morning and plowBig Jack Earl was 8'1He stood in the road and he criedHe couldn't make her love himCouldn't make her stayBut tell the good Lord that he tried(Chorus)Dusty trail from Atchison to PlacervilleOn the wreck of the Weaverville stageBeaula fired on Beatty for a lemonadeI was stirring my brandy with a nail boysStirring my brandy with a nail(Chorus)Well the rampaging sons of the widow JamesJack the cutter and the pock marked kidHad to stand naked at the bottomOf the crossAnd tell the good lord what they didTell the good lord what they did(Chorus)Punctuated birds on the power lineIn a Studebaker with the Birdie Joe JoaksI'm diggin all the way to ChinaWith a silver spoonWhile the hangman fumbles with the noose, boysThe hangman fumbles with the noose(Chorus)Pin your ear to the wisdom postPin your eye to the lineNever let the weeds get higherThan the gardenAlways keep a sapphire in your mindAlways keep a diamond in your mind(Chorus)

Tom Waits Jukebox

1. Hound Dog - Big Mama Thornton
2. It Should Have Been Me - Charles, Ray (1)
3. Strange Fruit - Holiday, Billie
4. 'Round Midnight - Davis, Miles
5. Abilene - Lightnin' Hopkins
6. Pretty Boy Floyd - Elliott, 'Ramblin' Jack
7. Straight No Chaser - Monk, Thelonious
8. Street - Partch, Harry
9. On The Road - Kerouac, Jack
10. Supermarket In California - Ginsberg, Allen
11. Ice Cream Man - Brim, John
12. One For My Baby (And One More For The Road) - Sinatra, Frank
13. Ring Around The World Phase 1 - Partch, Harry
14. Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You - Cole, Nat 'King'
15. Mack The Knife - Armstrong, Louis
16. Last Days Of The Suicide Kid - Bukowski, Charles
17. Evil (Is Goin' On) - Howlin' Wolf
18. Dark Was The Night Cold Was The Ground - Johnson, 'Blind' Willie (1)
19. Nobody's Fault But Mine - Johnson, 'Blind' Willie (1)
20. Ring Around The World Phase 4 - Partch, Harry

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tom Waits - Tom Traubert's Blues - 1977

Tom Waits - You Can Never Hold Back Spring

And The Seventh Days Petals Fell In Petaluma

And The Seventh Days Petals Fell In Petaluma

Harry Partch

An Old Clotheshorse Brews Himself A Pot of Tea

Harry Partch Collection Vol 1

The Old Clotheshorse hangs himself out to dry:

The new CDs have been reissued and the sound is excellent. These are an excellent introduction to his whole oeuvre. He’d worked as a migrant worker and had been on the road for half his life, and he was one of those rogue academics who worked outside the matrix. So they feared him and pretended to admire him. Like most innovators, he becomes gravel on the road that most people drive on. So he was the first one through the door and the crowd tramples him. But nobody has done anything like that since. The idea of designing your own instruments, playing them and then designing your own scale, your own system of music. That’s dramatic and particularly for the time that he was doing it. It was rather subversive. It’s always fascinating to hear something being played that doesn’t sound polished or evolved as an instrument. It still sounds a little bit like you’re hitting tractor parts or a dumpster door. Or you’re still in the kitchen, to an extent. The music has that extra texture to it. And then of course he’s very sophisticated and well versed in mythology so it’s got that other side to it.
"On Sundays, we'd always visit Uncle Robert, who was the organist at a methodist church in La Verne, California. Uncle Robert had a pipe organ in his house that went right through the roof. When he would play he would smear all the notes together like hot melted crayons and the whole house would shake.I remember his house was a complete mess; his clothes were everywhere, his bed was never made. "Now this is show business," I thought to myself. I asked my mom why I couldn't keep my room like Uncle Robert's, and she said, "Tom, your Uncle Robert is blind."
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