Help me educate the ignorant, otherwise intelligent guy who DOESN'T GET Tom Waits.

Me and Mr Waits have been buddies for a long time now, particularly on a late night drunk. I own most of his recorded material so making an educational disc for the poor, poor fool I work with won’t be any problem. However, if he “doesn’t get” Tom Waits I think some assistance may be handy.

I started with the early stuff and I keep picking things I hope he gets, great tunes with evocative lyrics:

Heartattack and Vine
Whistlin’ Past The Graveyard
Ol '55
Jersey Girl
The Heart Of Saturday Night

I have others in mind but how do you think I should continue this playlist for the uninitiated?

The unitiated metalhead or showtunes queen?

The two that stand out for me as “initiators” would be Singapore and Small Change.

If he likes sentimental stuff, Kentucky Avenue and Martha always get me there, too. And Grapefruit Moon.


Don’t worry, I’ll search Google and find out.

I would add

Christmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis
Jack & Neal - California Here I come
I Never Talk To Strangers

Neither, I was shocked by his “I don’t get Tom Waits” comment. Our tastes agree on most things, even obscure stuff. I just want to save this callow youth from a life not worth living.

I skipped them. I like them but I thought they may a bit difficult for an idiot. I’ll have another listen.

Good call but it’s me picking the sentimental stuff not him, he wouldn’t know.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but lack of exposure to Tom Waits may not be the problem. Some of us just don’t like his near-atonal, “cookie monster” singing style.

Agree with spoke- I consider myself to be very well rounded musically, and while I agree Tom Waits is a unique talent and admire his work, I just can’t handle THAT VOICE.

Waits is best experianced, as you mentioned in your OP, blind drunk. It doesn’t matter what songs you choose, there’s a point in drunkeness between “I’m the slickest dude alive” and the “I love you all” where Waits makes perfect sense. You just need to get your friend tanked and let the records spin.

Oh, and I love the song The Piano Has Been Drinking.

My father likes Tom Waits but I tuned him out the same way I do Dylan: someone I respect but don’t enjoy listening to. I was forced to listen to this song though and I dig it. And I like Tom Waits as a persona (esp in Short Cuts) so I don’t dislike him.

It all depends on his musical background; for someone like a sorority girl or someone else completely lacking any context or frame of reference for Waits, I’d basically cherrypick great songs chronologically and augment them with a primitive negro blues compilation and maybe some Brecht/Weill if possible as I segued into the post-“Rain Dogs” stuff.

“Train Song” (Version from “Big Time”)
“Long Way Home” (Version from Soundtrack of “Big Bad Love” is preferable, otherwise this song was remade for “Orphans…”)
“Intro+Emotional Weather Report” some beat poetry from the “live” opus.
“In Between Love” from The Early Years Vol 2
“Jockey Full of Bourbon”
“Hold On”
“Ol’ 55” for something familiar.
“Kommienezuspat” from "Alice (an odd pick, but it’s got a good bump to it).
“Hoist That Rag”
“The Black Rider” from…well, y’know. This shows off the Tin Pan Alley recurring themes.

Agreed. It isn’t a question of “getting” the music. Similarly, no matter how cleverly written Alvin and the Chipmunks material may or may not be, I find it grating and unlistenable due to the horrible voice delivery :slight_smile:

Let’s just respectfully say that I respect that Waits is musically respected by respectable afficionados.

As far as I’m concerned, the only person who can get away with the Cookie Monster singing voice (aside from Cooking Monster himself, Og bless him, and a handful of other Muppets) is Louis Armstrong. If Tom Waits is “all that” as a songwriter, perhaps I’d appreciate his stuff as performed by somebody else. Someone who doesn’t sound as if he’s in the process of giving himself a tracheotomy.

When I saw Tom Waits on The Daily Show recently, I wondered how someone who can’t sing manages to fashion a career as a singer – as opposed to, let’s say, a poet. I came up with a short list of the others who’ve done it: Louis Armstrong (as mentioned previously) and Bob Dylan.

My personal favorite Tom Waits album is the soundtrack to the movie One From The Heart, so I’m not much help.

Try Holly Cole’s album of Waits covers, Temptation.

I would try the second Early Years Album. His voice is entirely different than on the later albums and there are some great songs. I have always thought this recording to be Wait’s most accessible.

…oh and Cookie Monster has nothing on Mr. Waits. :stuck_out_tongue:

Neil Young and David Yow of The Jesus Lizard and Scratch Acid come to mind as well