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‘Tom Waits for No One’: Obscure Oscar-winning animated music video from 1979
06.14.2017
12:18 pm
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A few months ago, I heard that not long after I was in a certain store, that Tom Waits had visited the same establishment maybe about 90 minutes later. I must have mentioned this to four people, whether in person or over email and they all, each one of them, replied “Tom Waits for no one.”

I went from thinking, “Oh what a clever pun” the first time I heard this to thinking that this phrase must refer to something specific and so I googled it. How I have managed to be a lifelong Waits fan (and the editor this blog for 9 years) and miss this one is beyond me—it’s a big world, and an even bigger Internet, I suppose—but miss it I did. Maybe you did too?

“Tom Waits for No One” is the title of an absolutely amazing animated short that was made in 1979 by the Lyon Lamb company, the Oscar-winning technological innovators behind the Lyon Lamb Video Animation System which allowed animators to see immediate pencil tests of something without having to shoot it on film. After that, the company worked on developing a rotoscoping (hand-drawn tracing of live action footage) device for animator Ralph Bakshi, who decided to go in another direction right as the thing was ready to be demoed for him. Through a series of lucky events (seeing Tom Waits in his memorable TV appearance on Fernwood 2Night, then a few weeks later noticing Waits’ name on the marquee of the Roxy nightclub after a screening of Close Encounters of the Third Kind was sold out), John Lamb came to direct Waits in a rotoscoped animation for his song “The One That Got Away” to demonstrate their new device for the film industry. It was produced by his then business partner Bruce Lyon and utilized the (apparently mostly volunteered) talents of several up-and-comers who’d all go on to greater things, including lead animator David Silverman who went on to The Simpsons and Pixar’s Monsters, Inc.
 

 
Over thirteen hours of video was shot and edited down to 5,500 frames, which were then individually re-drawn and hand-painted onto celluloid acetate. What today would take a comparatively trivial amount of time then took the best in the business about six months of hard work.

Lamb told the Tom Waits Library:

“I toured Waits’ apartment at “The Tropicana” on Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood in the same time period. He had 2 adjoining rooms with the common wall removed to make the joint bigger. Newspapers, manuscripts, ash trays and empties cluttered up the digs about waist to shoulder high throughout. A path literally led from the fridge to the piano… piano to the couch… couch to the bedroom and so on. If it was foliage, you would have needed a machete to hack your way through… the path was just wide enough to maneuver your torso through, sometimes having to turn sideways to navigate a tight turn. “

“Tom also came to our studio in a middle-class neighborhood on the outskirts of Beverly Hills/West L.A…. primary residences to old silent era movie stars and the families of Hollywood entertainment personalities like Allen Carr, Jascha Heifetz, Arthur Freed and the sort. So Tom drives up in his 66’ Bird with “Blue Valentine” spray-painted on the rear quarter panels [late 1978, as shown on the back cover of the album Blue Valentine]. His Bird was stuffed with newspapers, manuscripts and clothing from floor to ceiling, just like his apartment. There was only enough room for the driver behind the wheel, even the passenger seat was stuffed to the roof, his vision was completely obstructed except for his forward view out the windshield, and all these old neighbors are peering out their windows watching this seedy looking character with a wrinkled suit and porkpie Stetson hat meander across the street ... pause and head up the stairs to our old Spanish - studio house. One of the old neighbors called after his arrival to see if everything was ok or if we wanted her to call the police.”

 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.14.2017
12:18 pm
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When Tom Waits met William Burroughs
05.15.2017
01:24 pm
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The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets is a lesser-known project of William S. Burroughs (who wrote the opera’s book) and a somewhat better-known work of Tom Waits (who composed the majority of the music and lyrics). The pair collaborated on the piece at the behest of theatrical visionary Robert Wilson, who staged and directed the avant-garde production which premiered in a German-language version at Hamburg’s Thalia Theatre on March 31, 1990.

The Black Rider
is based on a gruesome German folktale with supernatural themes called Der Freischütz, which had previously been made into an opera by the Romantic school composer Carl Maria von Weber. Historically, it is considered to be one of the very first “nationalist” German operas. Wilson’s innovate lighting and staging took its cue from German Expressionist cinema of the silent era.
 

 
The story is simple: A mild-mannered clerk falls in love with a hunter’s daughter and seeks his approval in order to marry. He is offered magic bullets in a Faustian bargain. On the day of their wedding, the final bullet kills his love. He loses his mind and joins other of the devil’s victims in a hellish carnival.
 

 
Worth noting that while The Black Rider is based on German folklore, the book has a bit of unavoidable thematic overlap with William Burroughs’ own life, the sordid “William Tell” incident that ended in the shooting death of his common-law wife Joan Vollmer in Mexico in 1951.

In the late 90s, English language versions of the opera started to occur. In 2004, Robert Wilson and Tom Waits teamed up again for an English language version of The Black Rider that would tour the world. Cast members included performers such as Marianne Faithfull (who essayed the devil character), eccentric Canadian chanteuse Mary Margaret O’Hara and Richard Strange from The Doctors of Madness. The opera has been staged several times since then by various companies, mostly in Europe. (“It’s like Cats over there,” said Waits.)
 
See some of ‘The Black Rider’ after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.15.2017
01:24 pm
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Ceramic pipes of Frank Zappa, Hunter S. Thompson, Cthulhu, The Dude and many more!
04.10.2017
11:51 am
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Frank Zappa
 
I’m completely smitten with these handmade ceramic and terracotta bowls by WTP Art on Etsy. I didn’t feature all the pipes they make here on Dangerous Minds, just the ones I really dig. They’ve got a lot of good ones.

The pipes are handcrafted and take about three to five days to ship. WTP Art also takes custom orders. If you don’t see your favorite character on their page, they’re totally open to making one for you.

Each pipe sells for around $35 depending on the detail. The most expensive ones are $45 + shipping.


Frank Zappa
 

Hunter S. Thompson
 

The Dude
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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04.10.2017
11:51 am
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Sausage and eggs: Tom Waits upstages EVERYONE on ‘The Mike Douglas Show,’ 1976
04.03.2017
02:33 pm
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Unusually among singer-songwriters, Tom Waits invented a schtick that was so original that it traded somewhat in shock value. Most everyone has a “the first time I ever heard Tom Waits” story; the palpable need of listeners to testify to Waits’ baffling qualities is unique in entertainment, I think.

Imagine what it was like as the renown of Tom Waits slowly began to seep past the cognoscenti and into the wider world. In the mid-1970s, with perhaps three albums under his belt, Waits began to appear on TV talk shows, and the interface between the observers’ naivete about what performers are and can do and Waits’ own messed-up thing began to reverberate more widely.

To be blunt: the more Tom Waits began to appear on TV, the more opportunities there were for people to say, “How did that homeless guy learn to play the piano so good?”

Case in point, Tom Waits’ November 17, 1976, appearance on The Mike Douglas Show, during which most of the questions Douglas (not unsympathetically) asked could simply be replaced with a series of thought bubbles with “WTF” inside. Small Change was the album he was supporting, but on the previous album, 1975’s Nighthawks at the Diner, Waits made the single most consequential transition of his career, adopting for reasons unknown his signature gravelly voice and also taking on the distinctive persona of a louche denizen of seedy late night dives.

What’s unmistakable is that Waits was in high form that day. Douglas asks Waits, “How would you describe what you’re doing?” and Waits answers, “I’m an unemployed service station attendant most of the time.” Later on he says that his preferred audience would be composed of “four-speed-automatic transvestites, and unemployed shortstops, that sort of thing.” Douglas asks him about the roughness of his voice, and Waits replies, “I just talk this way on the weekends.” Marvin Hamlisch, observing the exchange, allows as how Waits probably smokes too much.
 
Special praise, however, for Douglas’ relative equanimity, considering that a few hours earlier, Waits had not been permitted access to the set on account of clearly being some kind of vagrant, and Douglas’ own first reaction upon seeing Waits backstage was identical, according to an account of Waits’ appearance written by Don Roy King in 1999—King was producer of The Mike Douglas Show at the time. King had seen Waits perform in his carnival barker persona a couple of years earlier, and had admired the nerve of it, calling it “gutsy.” But he did think it was an act. The trouble King faced after booking Waits was that maybe it wasn’t an act at all:
 

Tom was asleep in the lobby. Now it was my turn to panic. Tom Waits shuffled into the studio, mumbling something about South Philly, scratching a three-day beard, balancing an inch-and-a-half ash on a non-filtered cigarette. “Oh my God,” I thought, “It wasn’t an act!!! I pushed for this guy to be on our national television show, and he’s going to panhandle the audience!!”

 
King adds, “Mentally, I was typing my resume.” But Waits was booked and they were just going to have to get through it as best they could.

Fortunately, everything worked out, as King describes:
 

Tom was mesmerizing and he knew it. We all knew it. ... In three riveting minutes the painting was done. It was harsh and hard-edged and very real. But there was an abstract rush to it, too. Some steady hand had splattered reds and blacks and yellows in a way that opened up a dark and unknown world and let us in. We’d been escorted to those back streets we fear, those alleys we’ve never seen after dark. And there we met and almost got to know some poor loser named Small Change. I almost sent flowers. Mike jumped up at the end, rushed over to Tom. I could tell he was surprised and happy and relieved (not nearly as relieved as his director, however). I seem to remember Mike putting his arm around him, probably catching his ring on the rip in Tom’s jacket. Tom mumbled a thank-you, and the show went on. ... But things were never quite the same. Every camera operator, every band member, every writer on that show did Tom Waits impressions for weeks.

 
Watch after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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04.03.2017
02:33 pm
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‘Tonight in Person’: Tom Waits gets theatrical at the BBC, 1979
04.21.2016
10:28 am
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On July 26, 1979, BBC2 aired an hour-long Tom Waits concert under the title Tonight in Person. The concert might be regarded as a straight taping of a live show but it also included elements that were more theatrical and seemed to be incorporated into the show as if it were an in-studio taping, a bit like when standup comedians bring in an audience for something that is understood by everyone present to be a recording of a TV special. That’s how this program feels, anyway, it doesn’t feel like a regular concert.

Some chronologies list this appearance as actually occurring on July 26 but I think that’s incorrect. If you look at a good chronology of Waits’ activities that year, it’s evident that he was touring Europe and Australia in the first part of the year and then started a U.S. tour in October, but he wasn’t playing music in front of audiences at any point in the summer. It’s hard to feature Waits flying from L.A. to London for a single show in July. I strongly suspect that he taped this show in late April, a couple of days after his appearance at the Konzerthaus in Vienna (which constituted the core of the delightful A Day in Vienna TV special, which we wrote about here). Waits played the Palladium on April 21, it seems, and probably this show was taped in there somewhere.
 

 
Waits starts things off with a track that never made it onto any of his albums called “With a Suitcase.” The song did appear in the Paradise Alley sessions of 1978, which are available on Tales from the Underground, Vol. 3. Waits sings the first verse of “With a Suitcase” and then breaks off and relates an amusing story about stumbling upon a clothing store on Beale Street in Memphis that is improbably open for business in the wee hours of the night: “You can’t get a sandwich at three o’clock in the morning but you can get a nice-looking suit.” I did some searches, and it’s possible that this was the only time he ever told that particular tall tale.

Waits sings two songs each from Foreign Affairs (“I Never Talk To Strangers” and “Burma Shave”), Small Change (“Step Right Up” and the title track), and Blue Valentine (“Red Shoes by the Drugstore” and “Kentucky Avenue”). A year later he would release Heartattack and Vine, and in fact the studio audience was treated to a preview of “On The Nickel,” which he refers to as a “hobo’s lullaby.”

Waits sings “Burma Shave” from a stage set of a typical American gas station from the 1950s—he’s pretty frisky with the words here…. the song opens with a verse that isn’t in the studio version and ends with a lengthy and touching “don’t you cry” coda that he also appended to the song when he did it on Austin City Limits in 1978. 

The last proper song Waits performs is “Small Change,” which he sings under a lamppost…. once the song is done, as if to echo the refrain “Small Change got rained on with his own thirty-eight,” a sprinkling of glitter drifts down from the rafters and Waits opens an umbrella to protect himself from the downpour. Then comes “Closing Time,” during which Waits rummages through a garbage can and pulls out a creased top hat and a gold jacket, and puts them on.

Watch the show that every Tom Waits completist has to see, after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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04.21.2016
10:28 am
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Shower curtains of Adam Ant, Wu-Tang, Nick Cave, David Bowie’s mug-shot (and everything in-between!)

David Bowie mug-shot shower curtain
David Bowie mug-shot shower curtain
 
One of the two driving forces behind Dangerous Minds, Tara McGinley has noted in the past that she has a “slightly unhealthy” obsession with shower curtains. Something that we share in common when it comes to coveting the wide variety of shower curtains that can usually be had for less than a hundred bucks out there on the Internets. Here are some of my current favorites.
 
Wendy O. Williams and The Plasmatics shower curtain
Wendy O. Williams and The Plasmatics shower curtain
 
Wu-Tang Clan shower curtain
Wu-Tang Clan shower curtain
 
So, if you always wanted a shower curtain featuring David Bowie’s 1976 mug-shot (when Bowie and Iggy Pop were arrested in Rochester, New York for possessing about 6.4 ounces of marijuana and pictured at the top of this post), then today is your lucky day (and I’d act fast before those pesky “cease and desist” letters cause some of these items disappear). Most of the shower curtains in this post can be found sites such as eBay, Fine Art America (where you’ll find the most of the ones I featured today), Society6, and Angry, Young and Poor.
 
Fight Club (featuring Tyler Durden) shower curtain
Fight Club’s Tyler Durden
 
Many, many more, after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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11.04.2015
09:44 am
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Fantastically realistic sculptures of Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Batgirl, Eddie Munster and more
09.25.2015
08:42 am
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Nick Cave sculpture by Trevor Grove
Nick Cave bust by Trevor Grove
 
The incredible work of sculptor Trevor Grove has been featured here on DM previously, and it’s my pleasure to be able to share more creations from this talented artist with our readers.
 
Nick Cave bust sculpture side view
 
Nick Cave Grinderman era sculpture
Nick Cave “Grinderman” version
 
The So-Cal based Grove has been at the hand-sculpting game for about seven years. He primarily creates his pieces with hard wax and the results are nothing less than startling. I’m especially fond of Grove’s two sculptures of Nick Cave (above) which includes a Grinderman version of Cave sporting his handlebar mustache, as well as his two sculpts of everyone’s favorite avante growler,Tom Waits.

And since I know you may be wondering, you can purchase some of Grove’s sculptures over at his site, Tweeterhead such as his sculpt of the late Yvonne Craig as Batgirl that were personally signed by Craig before she passed away last month.
 
Tom Waits sculpture by Trevor Grove
Tom Waits
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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09.25.2015
08:42 am
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Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Marianne Faithfull and more performing the music of Kurt Weill


 
Whether for his avant-garde work of the Berlin Cabaret scene or his later Broadway scores, Kurt Weill is synonymous with forward-thinking musical theater. It’s hard to imagine the 20th Century pop canon without standards like the indelibly swinging “Ballad of Mack the Knife” or the sentimental “September Song,” and in 1985, producer Hal Wilner conceived a tribute album, featuring a lineup of talent that ranged from actual rock stars like Sting and Todd Rundgren to avant/underground figures like Henry Cow/Art Bears singer Dagmar Krause and Downtown NYC jazz figurehead John Zorn.

The album, Lost in the Stars, was the third in a series of composer tributes put together by Wilner, whose prior similar projects included the Nino Rota tribute Amarcord and A Thelonious Monk Tribute called That’s the Way I Feel Now that featured admirably counter-intuitive contributors like Was (Not Was) and Peter Frampton. Wilner’s well-received tribute series may well have helped kick off the fad for tribute albums in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s; his Stay Awake and Weird Nightmare albums, tributes to Disney soundtracks and Charles Mingus, respectively, certainly benefited from appearing towards the beginning of that long-lived vogue.

Here’s Lou Reed, doing “September Song.” He’d record that song again ten years later, and it would serve as the title track to yet another Wilner tribute to Weill. That later album was more focused on historical recordings, and aside from excellent contributions from Nick Cave and William S. Burroughs, it mostly lacked the underground appeal of Lost in the Stars.
 

 
Tom Waits doing music from The Threepenny Opera isn’t exactly a stretch, but it’s as awesome as you’d think. His version of “What Keeps Mankind Alive?” and much much more after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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09.17.2015
09:59 am
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Smoke weed from the heads of Charles Bukowski, Tom Waits, Hunter S. Thompson & other oddballs
05.05.2015
12:51 pm
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Raul Duke and Dr. Gonzo pipes
Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo pipes

I have always loved marijuana. It has been a source of joy and comfort to me for many years. And I still think of it as a basic staple of life, along with beer and ice and grapefruits - and millions of Americans agree with me.
—Hunter S Thompson

Millions of Americans: “Yes, we do agree. Except for grapefruit. Fuck grapefruit.”

As the “legalize the good shit” wave continues to sweep across the U.S., so do the seemingly endless varieties of marijuana smoking apparatus. Ever wanted a bong that you could strap to your face that looks like Satan? No problem. Now if you happen to be one of those stoners who is always on the lookout for something unique to pack at your next smoke session, today is your lucky day Spicoli.
 
Tom Waits pipe
Tom Waits pipe

It just so happens that a Macedonia-based business called WOOFterrapipe makes ceramic pipes in the images of poets, deviants, and folk heroes like Tom Waits, Walter White and Edgar Allan Poe among others. The only pipe in the collection that puts me off a bit is the one of Charles Bukowski. While I understand that pretty much everybody (including me) and potheads love Buk, Bukowski himself LOATHED potheads. So as a huge fan of the man who wrote words like a wild horse runs, it seems a bit rude to want to fire up a bud of Blue Dream in the back of Bukowski’s little ceramic head.

However, given the choice (and it’s a tough one), I’d rather burn Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo with a little grass, a few beers (and maybe seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, two dozen amyls, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers).
 
Charles Bukowski pipe
Charles Bukowski pipe

More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.05.2015
12:51 pm
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Tom Waits meets Aesop Rock is actually a good idea!
12.03.2014
10:57 am
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It’s been over ten years now since Danger Mouse’s notorious Grey Album—a brilliant full length CD that mashed up a capella tracks from Jay Z’s Black Album with remixes of Beatles songs from the White Album—became a cause celebre due to EMI’s attempt to suppress it over the unauthorized use of the Beatles’ material. That move Streisanded all over the place, turning the extremely limited underground release into one of the most-downloaded albums of 2004, one that went on to rank #1 in Entertainment Weekly‘s year end best-of list, and to show up in the Village Voice‘s Pazz and Jop list. It’s so typical—left alone, the album would have remained an insidery bit of DJ culture esoterica, but the effort to bury it instead brought the mashup phenomenon in remix culture to the mainstream.
 

 
Since then, many DJs have endeavored high-concept mashup albums, but most have fallen short of Danger Mouse. Hippocamp Collective and DJ BC put out at least three Beatles mashup albums between them, with varying levels of inspiration. A duo called The Silence Xperiment did an album called Q Unit, combining 50 Cent’s rapping with Queen remixes, which was pretty good, though the world had already known since Vanilla Ice that Queen’s grooves are sufficiently potent on their own that they need a special kind of suckage on top to make a lousy song out of them. There’ve even been mashup tributes to unlikely subjects like AC/DC, Iron Maiden, and the practically ancient Australian entertainer/sex criminal Rolf Harris. (Actually, The Rolf Harris Mashup CD is beyond bonkers, and kinda totally rules.)

And still, ten years after Grey, contenders continue to appear. Someone using the name Aesop Waits released Tom Shall Pass this year, with remixed Tom Waits music beds underpinning vocal tracks from rapper Aesop Rock’s acclaimed 2007 album None Shall Pass, and I’ll be damned if it ain’t half bad at all. Since Waits’ old-timey rhythms and timbres don’t easily lend themselves to hip-hop treatment, the DJ here had to go to some effort to make this combination work, and to my reckoning, he (she?) did a good bit better than 50/50—the demented circus-falling-down-a-flight-of-stairs stylings of Waits’ music complements Aesop’s complex and impressionistic lyrics better than I’d have guessed. The best include “Reeperlawn,” “Undercomb Kids,” “Singapore Harbor is Yours,” “Knife Dance for the Whole Family,” and “Dark Heart of Istanbul.” (Each title is itself a mashup of the titles of the combined songs, if you didn’t catch that.) The tracks that fail are the ones that lean too heavily on extraneous drum loops, basically stomping all over the grooves inherent in the Waits samples, prompting wonder at what the point of even using them was in the first place.
 

 
Stream the entire “collaboration” after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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12.03.2014
10:57 am
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‘It’s a virus’: Tom Waits on musicians allowing their work to be used in commercials
09.08.2014
12:39 pm
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Below, Tom Waits responding to a 2002 article in The Nation by John Densmore of The Doors regarding musicians and artists “allowing their songs to be used in commercials.”

Woodland Hills, Calif.

Thank you for your eloquent “rant” by John Densmore of The Doors on the subject of artists allowing their songs to be used in commercials [“Riders on the Storm,” July 8]. I spoke out whenever possible on the topic even before the Frito Lay case (Waits v. Frito Lay), where they used a sound-alike version of my song “Step Right Up” so convincingly that I thought it was me. Ultimately, after much trial and tribulation, we prevailed and the court determined that my voice is my property.

Songs carry emotional information and some transport us back to a poignant time, place or event in our lives. It’s no wonder a corporation would want to hitch a ride on the spell these songs cast and encourage you to buy soft drinks, underwear or automobiles while you’re in the trance. Artists who take money for ads poison and pervert their songs. It reduces them to the level of a jingle, a word that describes the sound of change in your pocket, which is what your songs become. Remember, when you sell your songs for commercials, you are selling your audience as well.

When I was a kid, if I saw an artist I admired doing a commercial, I’d think, “Too bad, he must really need the money.” But now it’s so pervasive. It’s a virus. Artists are lining up to do ads. The money and exposure are too tantalizing for most artists to decline. Corporations are hoping to hijack a culture’s memories for their product. They want an artist’s audience, credibility, good will and all the energy the songs have gathered as well as given over the years. They suck the life and meaning from the songs and impregnate them with promises of a better life with their product.

Eventually, artists will be going onstage like race-car drivers covered in hundreds of logos. John, stay pure. Your credibility, your integrity and your honor are things no company should be able to buy.

TOM WAITS

Tom Waits successfully sued Frito-Lay, Inc. in 1992 and was awarded $2.6 million in compensatory damages.
 

 
Via Letters of Note

Posted by Tara McGinley
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09.08.2014
12:39 pm
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Tom Waits, great American bullshit artist
04.03.2014
06:11 pm
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“Most American automobile horns beep in the key of F. Did you know that?

It’s true.”

Singer-songwriter Tom Waits has long been known as one of our great raconteurs. His comic timing is nigh unto perfect. And that voice. The one that was described in Rolling Stone as sounding “like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car.” Tom Waits telling stories? I’m so there. Tom Waits is a truly great bullshit artist! The best.

I love Tom Waits, so how the hell did I not know he did a VH1 Storytellers? Well he did, back in 1999, and it’s as good as you would expect it to be. Better even. It’s a damned shame this has never come out on DVD (or what about Netflix streaming oh Viacom digital overlords?). The quality here is so-so, it was obviously taped off air onto a VHS tape, but I’m not complaining.

At Archive.org, some kind soul has posted the entire unedited set, more stories, more songs, but it’s audio only.

A special highlight, for me, comes at 25:20 when Waits growls “This is about the neighbor we all become…” when he introduces “What’s He Building?” from his then current album, 1999’s Mule Variations.
 

 
Bonus clip: Waits sings “The Piano Has Been Drinking” on Fernwood2Night in 1977:

 
Via Stupefaction

Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.03.2014
06:11 pm
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Planning a Tom Waits-themed vacation? You’re gonna need a map!
03.07.2014
05:07 pm
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As a committed modern troubadour, Tom Waits has always used a lot of locations in his songwriting, but I wasn’t aware of just how many until I saw this map that some brilliant, wonderful person has painstakingly curated. Supposedly, it contains every location Tom Waits has ever sang (or narrated) about. As a Tom Waits completest who will always defend him, even when he’s blatantly imitating Captain Beefheart, I have been wracking my brain trying to find something they missed, but to no avail… yet.
 
Tom Waits Map
 
However, as a Hoosier, I checked immediately to see if they got all the Indiana locations. Not only is my state accurately documented, they kept the misspelling from the album book. The song “First Kiss,” contains the line, “And when she got good and drunk, she would sing about Elkheart, Indiana, where the wind is strong, and folks mind their own business.” (It’s actually spelled “Elkhart.”)

Let’s take it home with, “I Wish I was in New Orleans,” live from Paris, 1979, shall we?
 

Posted by Amber Frost
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03.07.2014
05:07 pm
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Tom Waits on Rickie Lee Jones, his famous lasagna and wanting to be Castro in vintage interview
01.08.2014
02:31 pm
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FYI, that’s Cassandra Peterson AKA “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark” in the background with the pasties

I’ve been on a Rickie Lee Jones bender for the past week—I don’t want to can’t listen to anything else at the moment—and I was poking around on YouTube for clips of her (not even her official YouTube channel has that much good stuff, sadly. And what’s up with there being not even a single decent version of the “Chuck E’s in Love” video on YouTube?). Expect a Rickie Lee Jones megapost here sometime soon…

I was also looking around for information about why she and Tom Waits split up. There is a lot of conflicting information about their iconic soulmate boho pairing on the Internet (surprise, surprise) and the version of the story I’d always heard, and thought was true (that she revealed her junk habit to him and he left for New York the next day and never spoke to her ever again) turned out to be apocryphal. Whereas Jones has reluctantly told her side of the story—she must get damned tired of being asked about a former boyfriend from over 30 years ago—Waits has been more tight-lipped about what went down between them.

This 1979 interview with Waits, taped at the Shryock Auditorium in Carbondale, Illinois, sheds some light on their relationship—among other topics, like Waits’ famous lasagna (“talked about all over town”), how you should never play pool with a guy named “Fats” and the exhaustion of incessant touring—which was then ongoing. He alludes to something without actually saying it, but the message is pretty clear when he’s talking about how she’s doing. (For those of you reading this who are too young to remember, Jones had a reputation in the early part of her career as the Amy Winehouse of her day, an image she struggled to shake for a long time after it had ceased to be in any way accurate.)

There’s a great moment when the interviewer, Phil Ranstrom asks “I was reading an article from Rickie Lee Jones, she was saying you have become that person…you became that character you talk about in your songs through living it, through having to live it as an artist.”

Waits: “She’s right! It’s a dangerous business, y’know?…It’s kind of like a photographer going to a wedding and ending up married…You’re bound to get a little on ya, if you go poking your nose down the wrong street. As far as being a character in my stories, in my songs, I remain in all the stories, but at the same time I think the creative process is like gumbo, it’s a combination of imagination, experience and memories.”

Ranstrom also asks Waits “Who is one historical figure you would have liked to be?” Waits thinks about this for a moment, then eventually comes up with “Castro maybe?” He then adds STP racing CEO Andy Granatelli (who died last week at the age of 90) to that short list.

Note: The longer version of this video can be seen at the Media Burn website (it autoplays, so I can’t embed it here). The part where Waits speaks about Jones isn’t in the YouTube clip below, but starts at approximately 9:16 during the Media Burn clip.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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01.08.2014
02:31 pm
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Tom Waits: ‘A Day in Vienna,’ terrific, little-known late 70s TV documentary
08.28.2013
02:01 pm
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In 1978 or 1979 (we’ll get to that in a minute), Tom Waits was touring Europe. He had a concert in Vienna the day after a show in Amsterdam. He showed up in Vienna and was greeted by two young men named Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher, employees of ORF (Österreichischer Rundfunk, i.e. Austrian television) with the proposal of shooting an interview while he was in town. Waits countered with a better idea.

As Barney Hoskyns tells it in Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits:
 

Waits and band flew to Holland for a short European tour that took in Rotterdam, Copenhagen, Vienna, London, Dublin, Brussels, and Paris. … In Vienna on 19 April, Waits was filmed by Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher for a short documentary that incorporated live performances of “Sweet Little Bullet,” “Christmas Card,” and a loose-limbed take on “Shake, Rattle and Roll.” “He came in from Amsterdam saying he hadn’t slept all night, but he agreed on the spot to let us film him,” says Rossacher. “He said he didn’t want to do a proper interview but instead he wanted to tell stories.”

 
The film’s credit at the very end itself says quite clearly that it dates from 1978, but everyone else seems to think it was really 1979. For one thing, the video ends with a rendition of “On the Nickel,” which first appeared on 1980’s Heartattack and Vine.
 
Tom Waits
 
The concert in the footage was at the Konzerthaus, specifically the Mozartsaal, which seats 704. The European tour was in support of 1978’s Blue Valentine, and in the footage Waits plays “A Sweet Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun” and “Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis” off of that album. We get three songs from Waits’ 1976 album Small Change (“Jitterbug Boy,” “Pasties and a G-String (At the Two O’Clock Club),” and “I Can’t Wait to Get Off Work (And See My Baby on Montgomery Avenue)”). Waits’ rendition of “Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis” folds in a few bars of “Goin’ Out of My Head” when he gets to the Little Anthony and the Imperials line and ends with “Silent Night”—this was his usual practice in the late 1970s.

At the end of the video Waits does a slow dance with what Hoskyns calls “a Thai prostitute” in a joint called the Moulin Rouge on Walfischgasse in the city’s 1st district. The Moulin Rouge is still there, but that area is completely different today. Walfischgasse intersects with Kärntner Strasse, which is kind of like Times Square/42nd Street in more ways than one. In the 1970s it was a red-light district, but today it is one of the most commercialized avenues in Vienna. I love the footage in the middle where Waits tells the story of the saxophonist who can’t manage the bridge to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”—few things are more “Vienna” than a little table crowded with beer glasses and stately little cups of coffee.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Tom Waits on Australian TV, 1979-81: The great pretender
Tom Waits resurrects Captain Beefheart with the help of Keith Richards

Posted by Martin Schneider
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08.28.2013
02:01 pm
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