Tom Waits fans

Having just gone through the Captain Beefheart thread, here goes the Tom Waits thread. I will assume that most posters will be fans of almost anything he does, so this is going to be real gun-to-the-head stuff:

  1. Favorite songs (limit to the top FIVE ONLY, UNLESS you can’t leave THAT one out and still live with yourself).

  2. Either favorite or most important/seminal/influential album, or both.

(Actually not so gun-to-the-head, really).

Explanations and/or insane ramblings are encouraged.

I’ll start:


16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought Six
Gun Street Girl
Get Behind the Mule (must…not…violate…own…rule…and…put…Chocolate Jesus)
Hell Broke Luce

Favorite: Mule Variations
Most important: Swordfishtrombones

Let the mayhem begin.

So there’s two I’ll have to steal from your list, I’m afraid:

[li]Hell Broke Luce[/li][li]Rain Dogs[/li][li]Get Behind The Mule[/li][li]Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis[/li][li]What’s He Building?[/li][/ol]

As for albums, I’m not sure I can single out a ‘most important’, but Rain Dogs was the one I first fell in love with, and it’s held a special place in my heart ever since.

I’m forcing my self to choose one song: Gun Street Girl (and Step Right Up, and The Piano has been Drinking, and …)

Favorite Album: Rain Dogs

Insane Ramblings: Waits played two nights in DC on the Rain Dog tour. I went the both nights, the first with my equally pot headed drinking buddy (I was like, 19); the second night with my pretty up tight brother. First night, buddy and I got so wasted we passed out before the show and got rousted by the cops at the end of it.

My brother asked about the concert, staging, etc. I said it was really simple and low key. The second night, we get to the show and there’s a TV on stage playing static, a fridge the stage with beer in it, and Waits is wearing a fez. I said to my brother, “none of this was here last night.”


  1. Time
  2. Anywhere I Lay My Head
  3. All the World is Green
  4. Come On Up to the House
  5. Tango Till They’re Sore

Favorite album: Rain Dogs

Rain Dogs is still the only Tom Waits album I’ve fully digested. Everything else I pick-and-choose and get used to one song at a time. I started with the slow songs from Mule Variations, and I really like them. Then I tackled Rain Dogs, and learned to love it all (except Stone Blind Love. What a shit song.) I’ve been doing bits and pieces of Swordfishtrombone, Blood Money, and the rest of Mule Variations since then.

I hope to be able to see him live someday.

  1. Martha
  2. If I have to go
  3. Long Way Home
  4. I hope that I don’t fall in love with you
  5. Heart of Saturday Night

Favorite album- Closing Time

I’m going to ignore all your requirements, as I expect Tom Waits would, and instead post a verse, which is my favorite lyric of all time:

When the moon is a cold chiseled dagger
Sharp enough to draw blood from a stone
He rides through your dreams on a coach
And horses and the fence posts
In the moonlight look like bones.

Every time I hear “Black Wings,” I wait for this line, and shiver.

I guess I’m outta here, seeing as all the faves mentioned so far are after I stopped really listening to him. I’ll always have a sweet spot for Nighthawks. I think Swordfish was the last time I saw him live. Lotsa good stuff, just not my preference.

Of his “later” stuff, I really like Come On Up to the House.

Lotta Waits fans around these parts. Let me know when you want to discuss Small Change, Blue Valentine, or Heart Attack! :cool:

Man, I love Blue Valentine. It’s a gorgeous album that I should listen to more.

I really have to give that some thought. Certainly “Johnsburg, Illinois” will be on the list, though.

I was with it up until Franks Wild Years. I couldn’t hear the melody after that.

Burma Shave
I Never Talk to Strangers
On The Nickel
Bad Liver and a broken heart
Cinnys Waltz
Johnsburg Illinois
Putnam County
Train Song

LPs: Small Change, Foreign affairs, Swordfishtrombones, Franks Wild Years

I like Rain Dogs a lot but I thought it was too intentional. It never seemed to go to the high wild places.

Can’t answer until 3am (That’s my official Tom Waits time).

Seriously, try one sunny afternoon, going into the backyard and listening to Tom Waits. Doesn’t work.

My two favorites are two that haven’t been mentioned yet:

Warm Beer, Cold Women

Swordfish trumbone is a regular in my rotation.

Gin soaked boy always gets cranked!

God, holding to 5 is tough. Not going to include Singapore, Clap Hands, Alice, Better off without a wife, or Big in Japan which would probably be 6-10.

My top 5 is likely
I hope that I don’t fall in love with you
Jockey full of bourbon
Tango till their sore
Telephone call from Istanbul
The last rose of summer

I think. I’m not sure. Can I make it a top 20. Miserys the river of the world is being left out and…I’ll stop. My favorite album is the live album Big Time. Rain Dogs is probably the most important. I love the musicals he wrote too.

What, no “Better Off Without A Wife” yet?

Forcing myself to answer without reading anyone else’s list.

  1. Heartattack and Vine
  2. Gun Street Girl
  3. Jesus Gonna Be Here
  4. Small Change (Got Rained on With His Own .38)
  5. The Heart of Saturday Night

Favorite album: Rain Dogs
Most important: Swordfishtrombones

Damn straight.

I couldn’t even compile a CD of my favourite Waits songs, had to make two.

The person I made them for is now also a huge TW fan.

Precisely how I got into Waits - but this was in (quavering old man voice) the cassette era! (What say, sonny? Eh?)

I got into Waits the same way —a friend burned me a CD way back in '98 or so, when burning CDs was kind of a big deal. I still have that disk.