Author Topic: Tom Waits's Best Song  (Read 2511 times)

Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #30 on: April 11, 2021, 01:10:05 AM »
Mule Variations is probably my favourite of his albums, and if I had to pick a favourite song, it would be "Hold On". But his whole career really is an embarrassment of riches. Definitely more of a mid-to-later career Waits fan, but even the very early stuff is great.

Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #31 on: April 11, 2021, 07:02:00 AM »
It’s God’s Away On Business for me.

It came on the radio during a car journey back from a football match and when my dad heard it he thought the radio was fucked.

I also like Waltzing Matilda.

bakabaka

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Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #32 on: April 11, 2021, 07:26:29 AM »
As I said in the Alternative Pop Hits thread a while back, it has to be his version of Heigh Ho (The Dwarfs Marching Song) from Stay Awake. Just a glorious reworking.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KISFemeHOC4

Brundle-Fly

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Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #33 on: April 11, 2021, 01:49:48 PM »
Off the top of my hungovered head?

Potters Field
Martha
Romeo Is Bleeding
Frank’s Wild Years
Hang On St Christopher
9th & Hennepin
Somewhere
Diamonds On My Windshield
I Beg Your Pardon
You’re Innocent When You Dream

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Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #34 on: April 11, 2021, 02:11:33 PM »
Some others

Train Song
Who Are You This Time?
Black Wings
Whistlin Past The Graveyard
Cemetery Polka
Innocent When You Dream
Gun Street Girl
Step Right Up
In the Neighborhood
Temptation
I Don't Wanna Grow Up



Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #35 on: April 11, 2021, 09:28:19 PM »
Probably alone on this one as it's not really a song, more a spoken word piece, but I fucking love "What's He Building In There" from Mule Variations.
I hesitated to mention this for the same reason as you but What's He Building is definitely one of my favourites. Such a creepy, ominous track.

kalowski

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Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #36 on: April 11, 2021, 10:16:32 PM »
I hesitated to mention this for the same reason as you but What's He Building is definitely one of my favourites. Such a creepy, ominous track.
I definitely searched for Mayors Income, Tennessee after listening to that track.

earl_sleek

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Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #37 on: April 11, 2021, 10:55:20 PM »
In a similar vein, and probably better known: Frank's Wild Years.

Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #38 on: April 11, 2021, 11:58:04 PM »
Alice is probably my favourite Waits song, sets the tone for the following album perfectly. The way he sings "You're the ice in my drink" and the way the swish of the brushed drums mirrors the skates on the icy pond Tom is singing of. That whole album is a masterpiece: Poor Edward is a gothic horror story in miniature and the outro for some reason makes me imagine both the unimaginable fate of the poor man and Chet Baker falling out of a window into a Parisian street. Fish and Bird brings tears to my eyes in its story of impossible love; I'm Still Here makes me imagine love as seen through the fug of dementia; it all ends beautifully on Barcarole with "The branches spell Alice and I belong only to you". Then we watch it all through static as Faun's bowed saw and marimba take us off to the dreamland he sang of in Flower's Grave. That's another one: it takes a wordsmith such as Waits to think of something as deceptively simple and heartbreaking as "No one puts flowers on a flower's grave".

Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #39 on: April 12, 2021, 12:21:12 AM »
I definitely searched for Mayors Income, Tennessee after listening to that track.
Ha classic.

I often find myself saying "And you won't believe what Mr Sticha saw" when I'm alone around the house. I don't know why that line specifically but I've nailed the cadence down.

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Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #40 on: April 12, 2021, 12:53:05 AM »
Got to be 'Falling Down' for me, but not the studio version.  Any live recording of that is ace.

He's a bit like that, isn't he?  Can't say I care for 'Lost in the Harbour' as recorded, but live it's really something special.

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Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #41 on: April 12, 2021, 09:07:24 PM »
Alice is probably my favourite Waits song, sets the tone for the following album perfectly. The way he sings "You're the ice in my drink" and the way the swish of the brushed drums mirrors the skates on the icy pond Tom is singing of. That whole album is a masterpiece: Poor Edward is a gothic horror story in miniature and the outro for some reason makes me imagine both the unimaginable fate of the poor man and Chet Baker falling out of a window into a Parisian street. Fish and Bird brings tears to my eyes in its story of impossible love; I'm Still Here makes me imagine love as seen through the fug of dementia; it all ends beautifully on Barcarole with "The branches spell Alice and I belong only to you". Then we watch it all through static as Faun's bowed saw and marimba take us off to the dreamland he sang of in Flower's Grave. That's another one: it takes a wordsmith such as Waits to think of something as deceptively simple and heartbreaking as "No one puts flowers on a flower's grave".

Lovely post. Tom Waits is one of those geniuses and pivotal figures in my life that I take for granted but every now and then I will listen to one of his songs or read something like this and remember why I fell in love with his music and lyrics in the first place.

kalowski

  • Maclunkey
Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #42 on: April 12, 2021, 09:42:53 PM »
If you get to hear the concert from 2003, of Waits and The Kronos Quartet, it's a great listen, and includes the song he wrote for Solomon Burke, Always Keep a Diamond in your Mind.

Catalogue Trousers

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Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #43 on: April 12, 2021, 10:06:08 PM »
Frank's Wild Years
Singapore
The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)
What's He Building In There?

Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #44 on: April 13, 2021, 01:30:36 PM »
Ha classic.

I often find myself saying "And you won't believe what Mr Sticha saw" when I'm alone around the house. I don't know why that line specifically but I've nailed the cadence down.

I can't stop myself from rasping "There's poison underneath the sink, of course..." whenever I get anything out from underneath the sink. Glad I'm not alone!

There's a great live version of that, too, with lots of additional lyrics ("He said he was in the service for twenty years... but he's only twenty-years old" is my favourite).

There's just so much stuff with Waits. I'd consider him one of my all-time favourites, and yet I'd struggle to place maybe half the songs in this thread without digging them out to have a listen.

But the great thing is that I can have a Waits album in my collection for 10 years without really listening to it, and then one day it will just 'click' and I'll suddenly get it, and then I have a whole new batch of great songs to enjoy.

I'm as big a fan of his early work as I am his mid and later periods, so a few songs I'd add as favourites that I don't think have mentioned would include:

Midnight Lullaby
Martha
Ice Cream Man
Little Trip To Heaven
I Never Talk To Strangers
Foreign Affair
New Coat Of Paint
Fumblin' With The Blues


And that's just off his first two or three albums. How do you choose a favourite song? Oz Oz made a great post about Alice, and I just realised that I probably listened to that album everyday for a year when it came out, but haven't actually sat down and listened to it for over ten years now, so that needs re-exploring.

I'll Shoot The Moon, Falling Down and In The Neighbourhood are great mid-era (?) songs that didn't do much for me on their respective albums but I've fallen in love with them thanks to some incredible live versions that are out there.

Mule Variations came out when I was at uni and pretty much got me through my first year. Big In Japan and Filipino Box Spring Hog were two excellent 'brawlers', and Georgia Lee and Come On Up To The House were beautiful 'bawlers', as well as the aforementioned 'bastard', What's He Building In There?

Talking of Bawlers, Brawlers and Bastards, there was of course Orphans - a three disc, 90-something compilation of unreleased material that's pretty much as good or better as anything he'd ever put out before then!

And I don't think I've ever even heard his most recent couple of albums more than once, so I'm sure I'm missing out on some great stuff there, that I'll have to make time for one day.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #45 on: April 13, 2021, 01:33:23 PM »
Come on up to the house is my showpiece on a piano when I’ve been drinking (not the piano).

I do all the little trills and stuff. Waitsian in its sloppiness.

Another worthless post. Sorry, need to up my game.

kalowski

  • Maclunkey
Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #46 on: April 13, 2021, 01:43:52 PM »
My son is called Tom and my daughter is called Martha.

I'm a fan.

Glad someone mentioned Burma Shave. I'd also suggest Potter's Field from the same record (Foreign Affair).
« Last Edit: April 13, 2021, 02:01:01 PM by kalowski »

Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #47 on: April 13, 2021, 01:50:31 PM »
Come on up to the house is my showpiece on a piano when I’ve been drinking (not the piano).

I do all the little trills and stuff. Waitsian in its sloppiness.

Another worthless post. Sorry, need to up my game.

As a 14 year-old, I knew Martha inside and out, and was all set to perform it in a school assembly for my GCSE music - doing the Waits voice and everything (even though my own had barely broken at the time).

My Mum heard me practicing on the morning of the assembly and very kindly suggested that it might be best if I just concentrated on the piano part.

Mum knows best.

Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #48 on: April 13, 2021, 02:36:29 PM »
It's Martha

Close thread.

Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #49 on: April 13, 2021, 02:49:25 PM »
As a 14 year-old, I knew Martha inside and out, and was all set to perform it in a school assembly for my GCSE music - doing the Waits voice and everything (even though my own had barely broken at the time).

My Mum heard me practicing on the morning of the assembly and very kindly suggested that it might be best if I just concentrated on the piano part.

Mum knows best.

Brilliant. Similarly, I auditioned for a musical when I was a teenager by singing Come On Up To The House.

Cuellar

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Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #50 on: April 13, 2021, 03:12:34 PM »
It's Martha

Close thread.

Agreed. Maybe. There are lots aren't there. But I can play Martha on the piano, or at least the verse bits. People think I can play the piano when I do that, but I can't really.

Loads on Orphans are great. Fish In The Jailhouse, Bottom Of The World, Lucinda, Rains On Me, Long Way Home, Home I'll Never Be.

But as a lovesick teen I listened to Martha a lot. Grapefruit Moon too, Ruby's Arms.

Tom Traubert's Blues too - I think my dad showed it to me on some Old Grey Whistle Test video when I was probably not much older than about 13 and I didn't know what the hell to make of his voice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBc6l8ykMBE - this performance it was. Fascinated me though.

Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #51 on: April 13, 2021, 04:53:51 PM »
There's a false start on Glitter and Doom that starts with a big instrumental swell and "wellllllll", which then falters.

Tom just goes "ahhhh they all start like that"

Strangely, my first was Blood Money - I was into rubbish metal at the time but I was somewhat interested in Beefheart from reading about it, so my dad suggested ol' Mr Waits and the first thing I found on youtube was the video for God's Away on Business.  It was a jolt to say the least.

Ended up using my saturday job money to get maybe a new Waits album a week - Rain Dogs was first, I think; then Bone Machine, Small Change, Swordfishtrombones, Mule Variations, Real Gone and then the rest.

Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #52 on: April 13, 2021, 06:29:48 PM »
Oof, how to choose (I'm another one of those who prefers the earlier, sozzled-barfly-crooner stuff to the later, apocalyptic broken-glass-gargling pipe-clanging material, although I adore both):

Fumbling With the Blues
Black Wings
Chocolate Jesus
Burma Shave (man, those lyrics)
Small Change (Got Rained on with His Own .38)
The Ghosts of Saturday Night
Cemetery Polka
Hang on St. Christopher
Goin' Out West


Any one of these would be a career-best for most songwriters, and Tom's just banging them out one after the other.

Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #53 on: April 13, 2021, 07:03:12 PM »
my automatic answer was "Hold On" but I've only heard a best of and a covers album (streamed a couple of his 70s albums in the background but not enough to know songs)

Dannyhood91

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Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #54 on: April 13, 2021, 07:45:17 PM »
Potters Field is great over the top film noir character Waits. Heart attack & Vine, Mr Seigal and Downtown are all great sleazy blues tunes.

kalowski

  • Maclunkey
Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #55 on: April 13, 2021, 10:38:26 PM »
Back in my own thread again to tip my hat to two great, but very different songs.
The sheer touching beauty of Soldier's Things ("Oh, and this one is for bravery, and this one is for me. And everything's a dollar...in this box.")
The delightful fun of I Can't Wait To Get Off Work (and See My Baby On Montgomery Avenue): "I'm disheveled, I'm disdainful,  I'm distracted and it's painful. But this job sweeping up here is gainfully employing me tonight."

kalowski

  • Maclunkey
Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #56 on: April 14, 2021, 10:21:27 AM »
I've got The Black Rider on again this morning. Sometimes, I think it is his best album. It's incredible (even this counterfeit blue vinyl edition) isn't it. The title track is a perfect Weimar pastiche. Lyrically the album is opaque, probably the influence of William S Burroughs, and musically it's wonderfully inventive. There's a point in November where it speeds up, for about 4 bars of music only, then reverts back. Great saw playing on that too.
I saw ana amazing performance of The Black Rider at the Barbican many years ago. Marianne Faithful was the devil (and the only weak link in the play).

You may not know of the songs that were in the stage play but didn't make the album.
Chase the Clouds Away
In the Morning

Famous Mortimer

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Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #57 on: April 14, 2021, 07:50:56 PM »
Because it was the first one I ever heard, "Goin Out West" for me. It was in pretty heavy rotation on MTV, as I recall, and I became a fan, working my way backwards later.

kalowski

  • Maclunkey
Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #58 on: April 14, 2021, 08:09:17 PM »
Oh, and don't tell Mrs Kalowski, but I've just dropped £80 on an original vinyl copy of Bone Machine.

Re: Tom Waits's Best Song
« Reply #59 on: April 14, 2021, 09:43:15 PM »
Back in my own thread again to tip my hat to two great, but very different songs.
The sheer touching beauty of Soldier's Things ("Oh, and this one is for bravery, and this one is for me. And everything's a dollar...in this box.")
The delightful fun of I Can't Wait To Get Off Work (and See My Baby On Montgomery Avenue): "I'm disheveled, I'm disdainful,  I'm distracted and it's painful. But this job sweeping up here is gainfully employing me tonight."

Tom do this and Tom do that and Tom...don't do that.

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