Welcomt to my Music Diary – today for the 7th December!
Happy birthday to Mr. Thomas Alan „Tom“ Waits, who was born on the 7th December 1949 in Pamona, California!
The American singer-songwriter, composer and actor is one of the most outstanding artitsts, who recorded 16 studio albums so far and acted in many movies. So he was „Zack“ beside John Lurie and Roberto Benigni in Jim Jarmusch’s masterpiece „Down by Law“ (1986). Tom Waits‚ trademark is his very distinctive voice, which was described by critic Daniel Durchholz as „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.“ Also his music sound has became very unique and idiosyncratic: From the classic bar piano sound it developed in a very special style which includes beside Rock also Blues, Jazz and Vaudeville.
In the sixties Waits played in a band called „The Systems“ and at the age of 21 he signed for Frank Zappa’s and Herb Cohen’s label Bizarre/Straight. His first demo recordings of that time became available on the two compilations „The Early Years, Volume One“ and „The Early Years, Volume Two„. Shortly after that, he signed to „Asylum Records“ for which he recorded his jazzy-folky debut „Closing Time“ (1973). The LP received very good reviews and other artists covered some songs: Tim Buckley recorded „Martha“ in the same year and The Eagles did their version of „Ol‘ ’55“ for the album „On the Border“ (1974). Tom Waits described his second album „The Heart of Saturday Night“ (1974) appropriately as „a comprehensive study of a number of aspects of this search for the center of Saturday night, which Jack Kerouac relentlessly chased from one end of this country to the other, and I’ve attempted to scoop up a few diamonds of this magic that I see.“
After the 2-LP-set „Nighthawks at the Diner„, which was recorded in a studio with a small audience, to create a certain live feeling, the very jazzy sounding album „Small Change“ (1976) was released and it broke onto the Billboard‚s Top 100 Albums chart. With „Foreign Affairs“ (1977) Waits conitnued his jazzy way but changed it into a more bluesy and darker sounding for „Blue Valentine“ (1978). in 1980 „Heartattack and Vine“ followed and after that he wrote the score for Francis Ford Coppola’s movie „One from the Heart“
In August 1980 Tom Waits married the screenwriter Kathleen Brennan, who became a major influence on his songwriting and „Swordfishtrombones“ (1983) proved that. This new sound was refined for the next two albums, which became real milestones: „Rain Dogs“ (1985) and „Frank’s Wild Years“ (1987).
In 1990 the theatrical colloboration with director Robert Wilson and writer William S. Burroughs happened for „The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets„, which was based on the German tale „Der Freischütz“. The studio versions of the used songs were released three years later and in 1991 Waits recorded the soundtrack for „Night on Earth“ (another movie by Jim Jarmusch).
Five years after Waits‘ last studio album he recorded another masterpiece: „Bone Machine„. Critic Steve Huey (Allmusic) calls it „perhaps Tom Waits’s most cohesive album… a morbid, sinister nightmare, one that applied the quirks of his experimental ’80s classics to stunningly evocative – and often harrowing – effect. Waits‘ most affecting and powerful recording, even if it isn’t his most accessible.“ The LP received a Grammy in the „Best Alternative Album“ category.
The album „Mule Variations“ (1999) is another masterpiece. „Billboard“ described it as „backwoods blues, skewed gospel, and unruly art stomp into a sublime piece of junkyard sound sculpture.“ It won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album and sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide. In 2002 the two LPs „Alice„and „Blood Money“ hit the stores. All songs of these collections had been written almost ten years previously and were based on another theatrical collaborations with Robert Wilson.
„Real Gone“ followed in 2004 and it’s the first album by Tom Waits which features no piano. Two years later the rarities set „Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards“ was released. This 3-CD-set features unreleased and new compositions. In 2008 Tom Waits started his „Glitter and Doom Tour„, which lead him through the USA and Europe (see here some pictures, videos and reviews of his performance in Paris). In November 2009 the live album „Glitter And Doom Live„, which features a fine song selection of the tour, was released.
In October 2011 his new studio album „Bad As Me“ hit the stores. After „Real Gone“ this is the first LP which is consisting completely of brandnew material by Tom Waits. Also in 2011, Tom Waits was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Get your Tom Waits stuff here (for Austrian customer):