I don’t wanna grow up

There’s something a bit unreal about Tom Waits. I sometimes think I left it too late to find out about Waits’ music, but actually I think I left it just right: instead of the blitzkreig approach to finding his music I took with REM, I’ve had just two albums (Bone Machine and Mule Variations) for a while now, and I think this slower-paced, more contemplative approach has been the right one.

Waits’ songs seep into one’s head. I know every one of these songs now, and they come back to me to haunt my dreams at the oddest times. Yet I don’t listen to either album non-stop for days on end (like I have done with Springsteen…), and with one exception, I don’t listen to the songs on repeat either. They just have that indefinable quality which lifts them out of the mundane, past the brilliant and into the ethereally perfect. Come On Up To The House is maybe the best example, and as has been mentioned to me, may really be as near a perfect song as you could ever hope for. There’s little too it, musically: a repetitive thwacking of the drums, some pleasant piano chords, a drawling mariachi trumpet. Yet this is Waits at his finest, his big, booming voice at the very stretches of his gravelly range, its raw, gnarled tone blaring majestically over the backing. And the lyrics, oh! the lyrics. I have no idea of Waits’ religious stance – this man has a go at some analysis – but there’s an almost spiritual feel about his music anyway. It’s so American, and as such has America’s religious obsession wrapped up in it. It’s a blast from the heart through this secular, cold society. This is almost chain-gang in its repetition, but there’s such harrowing, philosophical thoughts in there…

I am a fan. Next stop, I’m not really sure: I await guidance from above.

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One Response

  1. Great post! Once you feel sufficiently saturated in “Bone Machine” and “Mule Variations”, I really think you should get your hands on the magnificent “Orphans” set: the first two discs are nothing short of miraculous.

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