Tom Waits

Tom Waits: A Poet of Outcasts Who’s Come Inside “Sunlight wouldn’t seem to be Tom Waits’s element. His songs tend to take place in rainy nocturnal realms filled with outcasts and freaks, where his slurred gargle of a voice and his junkyard assortment of sounds won’t upset passers-by. Yet there Mr. Waits was on a bucolic northern California afternoon a few weeks ago, lunching on minestrone soup in a small-town restaurant near his home, and talking affably about how he has created and maintained his own peculiar zone  more like a back room or a bunker full of debris  in American music.”

I’ve always loved Tom Waits’ music. Ann admits she finds it interesting and tolerates the periods, every few months, where I go on a Tom Waits bender and listen to lots of albums over and over again before I move along to something else. Every woman I’ve dated long enough to live with me through my Waits Phases has tolerated that phase and just smiled and loved that weird part of me. Well, they did at the start of the relationship. I’m sure that as things were winding down it was another nail in the coffin. Rain Dogs helped me get over a particuarly nasty breakup some years ago. I think the album has moments that are so dark and depressing that I, by comparison, was happier and brighter. Either that or the album allowed me to go all of the way down so I could start my journey back up again. It’s hard to say.

These days, my life has its stresses and strains but I am, on the whole, a happy person. So, Waits’ music isn’t about happy or sad to me now, they are about mood and melody, tone and timbre. They make me look at the world with my head cocked at a 30 degree angle the way a dog does when you make a funny noise at it. Yeah, that’s it. Tom Waits’ music is that funny noise that makes me do that. And I love it.

Don’t tell my wife. But I may have to sneak off and buy a pair of CDs this week.

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