September 20, 2006 | Posted by dave w at 10:07 PM

A Grand Weeper

Tom Waits - Bottom of the World

I've been to a lot of shows--I don't hold the record or anything, but I've been to too many to count, big ones, little ones, one of a kind ones and big plastic interchangeable boring ones. But my girlfriend has seen Tom Waits, and if that was the only show she'd ever gone to, she'd still be cooler than me.

Tom Waits makes me feel like the devil is a real man, he might cook me breakfast and he will probably steal my soul. Tom Waits has been warning us about this for years with stories about those who lost theirs, or just barely escaped. In November is coming a three-disc set of these outcats--Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards.

Dammit if he can't make everything sound cool. His wife and co-writer has said that they make two kinds of songs: grim reapers and grand weepers. This track is on the grand weeper side and when Waits bellows that he's lost at the bottom of the world, christ you believe him. This is the only track I've heard so far off the album, but it gets me very excited. The format for the set puts the experimental Waits on one disc, "Bastards" which is great because I'll want to listen to it sometimes, but it's not the kind music I want for hangover Sunday morning, which is one of those times I most often get the craving for Waits.

I recommend reading Waits' description of the upcoming project here, because he always adds details like, "Some of the tapes I had to pay ransom for to a plumber in Russia." which might not be true, but who cares? Can't you see a sepia stained Waits doing it--plying him with vodka first, explaining how it had been his wife's idea for him to lock himself in the bathroom in St. Petersburg, in the tub, to record Bottom of the World, where the recorder got stunk beneath the sink? And then begrudgingly pulling out a wad of wrinkled money from a hole in his shoe?

I know he's not the characters in his songs, but the evocation is strong, ain't it? They may not be him, but they exist in their own world, which is apparently about to get a lot bigger.

Comments

What a perfect surprise for my birthday! I was lucky enough to see Tom at a show for a birthday some years back, and yes, it was the damn coolest moment of my life (Joe Strummer was drunk at the bar and Keith Richards had worse seats than me). Thanks for giving this trainspotter the first listen...

Posted by: Chris at September 21, 2006 02:12 AM

I’ve never seen him live. But I remember seeing him do “Eggs and Sausage” on the old Dinah Shore afternoon talk show—-about a million years ago, when even he was young. I was over a friend’s house and was just transfixed by it. I went home for dinner, and my mom said, “Did you see that guy?” and she sang “…chilli in a bowl….” She dug him too. And a million years later, we both still got a soft spot for him.

Posted by: dkeifer at September 21, 2006 07:35 AM
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