Saturday, September 01, 2012

Do An Act Long Enough, And The Act Starts Doing You

Tom Waits and the face he keeps in a jar by the door.

I didn't know he hooked up with Duke Robillard. He's the fellow with the voluminous guitar. He's from Woonsocket, Rhode Island, near where I grew up. Used to see him here and there when I was still outside at night. He's a terrific player; he founded Roomful of Blues back in the day. 

Tom Waits? He must have put a funny hat on his head when he was young, and tried it askew once while he sang, and so began a long glide of going out there while keeping The Picture of Mixolydian Gray in his attic. At some point, smeared with cheap hairspray from his date's bouffants and soaked to his tallow with booze and caked in nicotine, he spontaneously combusted and ran at the picture, consuming all. He is the ghost of whoever he was now, and rattles his chains for us on Letterman.


Leslie said...

I liked Tom Waits back when I was young and actual musical notes came out of his throat. Some of his melodies slayed me. Now, either my ears have gone bad, or his have.

lorraine said...

Odd. I live in a very small town in No. California. Tom is 1st cousin to a friend of mine and was very close to her father. He died in his 90's a couple of years ago and Tom sang at the memorial service. I knew the only chance I ever had to see him perform was at the service and since I knew the family and father I went. He sang in a perfectly normal voice. I thought the rasp was damage from long term booze, smoke and rough singing. I was very surprised. He is very odd though. I declined the hang around meet and greet as I have always thought to keep the art and the artist apart. I was raised in Hollywood and around many of the late greats of the time and learned that I didn't like any of them for who they were but from what they did with a script and camera work or music and lights.

So for what it is worth, Tom can sing if he chooses to do so. Why he doesn't is any bodies guess. My 2 cents worth.

Rob De Witt said...

Tom Waits seems to be following me. My recent next-door neighbors keep telling me how hip it is to see him in the neighborhood (Sebastopol, Lorraine). Sigh.

Anyhow, hipsters have always bored the pants off me, I never much cared for him, and the current example is unlistenable - but "The Picture of Mixolydian Gray" is just exquisite.

Damn we're literate.

Les Cargill said...

That clip was smokin'. Suspend a little more disbelief and see what you get back next time.

Might sound cynical, but it's *all* an act. His is, at least, a good one.

Tom Hyland said...

C'mon folks... gee whiz... aren't WE getting SO hard to please?? It's show biz!! Lighten up! Here's Tom Waits demonstrating his genius... his magic...his generosity that we even get to witness his.... oh.... whatever.... just watch this and tell me you ain't impressed...

Leslie said...

I love the juxtaposition of that silly lyric and the lovely piano..there is an underlying sweetness. That is what slays me.

Cachinnosus said...

Gotta agree with Les Cargill, y'all: lighten up. I can still remember, as a high school kid, being blown away by his album Small Change. He continues to stretch his limits and writes extraordinary songs.
I play his music regularly at work, to predictably mixed reviews. And, sigh, my 10-year-old daughter says, "He sounds like a monster." when I play him in the car.
He is indeed an acquired taste-- Laphroaig for the soul.

Rob De Witt said...

Can't help noticing the exact same rap I've gotten when I expressed my ennui about hip for the last 40+ years.

"You need to lighten up, man."

It bores me, kids. What's heavy about that? The heaviness would seem to reside in the pretentiousness of hipsters, for that matter, but whatever. Just don't make me listen to it and we'll be fine.

And am I imagining that none of you culturati picked up on the "Mixolydian Gray" line? For shame.

Russell said...

"The Picture of Mixolydian Gray"

It's phrases like this that keep me coming back.

SippicanCottage said...

I sheepishly admit I got a little tingle writing that.

Russell said...

That was tingle worthy.

I'd be jealous, but you pull those out so often, I'm mostly in awe. Mostly :)