Tom Waits.

Tom Waits

(Originally ran for, NOV 2009)

If you asked me who my favorite songwriter was, I couldn’t give you a straight answer. But in the top 3 most definitely is Tom Waits.

Tom Waits isn’t exactly the music industry’s darling, but he is admired by most of it’s artists. People don’t necessarily go into a music store and ask for him. He’s like a secret, spread from boyfriend to girlfriend, older sibling to younger sibling, eccentric teacher to student, and weird friend to a kid with a little need for excitement in their life. Going into internet message boards about him, you find these stories all the time. Talking to other people who like Tom Waits in the real world, they all have similar things to say as well. “My boss played him at work in the back, we all got into him after awhile,” or “My brother was visiting from college, and had his CD in his bag.” In fact, it may seem that Tom’s success doesn’t come from conventional means at all.

My story is no different. I was perfectly complacent with what I thought was original and exciting music. I was visiting my brother and as we were sleepwalking through the morning after a night out watching a rockabilly band, he just happened to switch on the stereo for some background music. (For the men in my family, background music meant loud as you can) I could have sworn
a rooster was crowing in the song as mad percussion started filling the room, I was intrigued, but not until I heard Tom Wait’s voice in all it’s madness hack it’s way into the room. “Who was this?” I had to know. My brother explained it was a new album by this dude called Tom Waits, and he knew I would appreciate it because no one else seemed to, and didn’t the rooster sound cool in the song, and how about that voice huh?

How about the voice indeed. It’s been his voice that has kept me coming back album after album. From the unique genre-less music he creates these days, to the bluesy and jazzy stuff from the 70’s. It seems that every writer who covers him describes it as scratchy, gravelly, or sand paper- ish. Yeah I guess so, but the truth is, it’s a great voice, perfect for what he does. His songs, whether they belong in a genre or not, often define mankind. The heartbroken guy, the traveler, the one who does things different. It’s not the type of man we like to admit we are sometimes, but it’s the ones who make the most intriguing songs and stories.

So far the first three paragraphs of this review is all a set up to let you know how important the “Glitter and Doom” tour was to me. You see, despite my fascination with Tom Waits, I had never seen him play live. In the nineties he took a more reclusive way of life and played less and less. So when he announced the Glitter and Doom tour… I knew I had to go.

I waited patiently on ticketmaster until the time clicked down, and bought my ticket. I paid a triple digit price for a good seat, and I went alone but I didn’t care. When I got to the arena I wasn’t alone. It was a sold out show and every soul in there was a die hard Waits fan. I don’t think I am lying when I say this was one of the best shows I ever saw and I would go into debt to follow this
tour. It was simply amazing.

Enter GLITTER AND DOOM LIVE… which is a recorded history of this tour. It features 17 tracks recorded live on tour picked by Tom himself… from the rousing opening number. (Lucinda/ Ain’t going down) to Goin’ out West to Lucky Day… this CD covers a good chunk of the his concerts and his career. You will hear old songs and new ones, and the sound, is just striking. It brings a whole new dimension, after seeing him live and just being caught up in the moment, it’s nice having this recording to go back and really listen to.

Disc 2 is called “Tom’s Tales” which is an interesting collection of stories and tidbits, in true Tom Waits fashion being very random and odd, but fascinating to hear. Tom Waits has made his career out of his stories, this is another testament to that.

The album is a great live album. You either love Tom Waits or you don’t. In fact I’m willing to bet that if you’re a fan I’m probably just preaching to the choir here. This makes a welcome addition to any Waits music collection.

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