1. zackoz says

    Why, Cuttlefish, why?

    I lasted about three minutes.

    I hadn’t seen Tom Waits before, and after that I don’t mind if I never see him again.

    Did he have laryngitis?

    Has no one told him about the need for clear diction?

    It was hard to be sure, but was it perhaps an anti-war song?

    I won’t come back with one possible Australian reaction – “How dare you murder our national song”, as I don’t much like the real Waltzing Matilda song either.

  2. rq says

    I’m going to make up my own fantastic story about Cuttlefish on stage with Tom Waits in a very well-received and well-attended performance starring several of Cuttlefish’s rhymes and songs, with lots of lucre to follow.

    I think it was Tom Waits’ song Martha that really cemented my admiration for TW… Especially when I found out he was in his twenties when he wrote and sang it.

  3. davem says

    Thanks for that, Cuttlefish. I really needed to start Sunday with a rendition of sandpaper rubbing against gravel….:)

  4. Al Dente says

    Good piano playing. The set lighting is evocative. The accompaniment is nicely understated. The singing sucks big time.

  5. Cuttlefish says

    Ok, I am an idiot. I meant a metaphorical journey, through a whole bunch of music (with a particular set of parameters for the path), and here I got Kylie thinking I was actually heading to Australia. My apologies to anyone who thought (hoped, feared) I was on my way. If I had the money, I’d go in a heartbeat.

    It surprises me not one bit that the reaction to my favorite musical artist was…. mixed. I saw a production of his “The Black Rider” once where half the audience was gone after intermission. The other half, of course, took advantage and moved closer, loving every minute. It was a brilliant show.

  6. says

    Tom Traubert’s Blues easily one of the all time very best songs and performances on my list. If you really listen to the lyrics and find an understanding of just what the picture the song is painting you can only hear and see the voice that Tom Waits uses in singing the song as the perfect brush.

  7. zackoz says

    Ok, he’s an acquired taste, like durian.

    It would be great if you visited Oz.

    I’d look forward to an acerbic Cuttlefish verse about Australia’s shameful treatment of refugees.

    When you think the politicians couldn’t get any more disgusting, they contrive to exceed your worst expectations.

  8. Kevin Kehres says

    Wow. Who woulda thought FTB would be a place for such musical conservatives? I suppose your ideal voice is Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins? Meh.

    I love artists like this. Leon Redbone, Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin, Koko Taylor. The whole lot of them. Their passion oozes out of the music. The musical world would be a much-poorer place without this type of artist.

    If you listen to him, you’ll hear that he’s absolutely 100% on pitch. Which you can’t say about some more-conventional pop singers of the day. Back when car radios had push buttons, I used to give them 3 seconds, then off to another channel.

  9. ddpej says

    His voice was a bit jarring at first, as unexpected things often are, but I was able to listen through to the end of the song just fine. Like Kevin, I heard no pitch problems or anything and the music was well enough.

    Interestingly, however, I doubt I could handle a live show if this is his typical singing style. The lines of his mouth and face, with nearly every word*, simply scream of forced constraint. That level and type of muscle tension is much more in line with playing a trumpet than with vocal work (though for what it’s worth, his embouchure looked pretty decent). It’s probably due to my classically trained vocal background, but actually watching the tension (vs. only hearing it) was about as rough on my nerves as nails on a chalkboard. I couldn’t watch the whole thing without switching browser tabs to get away from the visual aspect.

    *There are a few exceptions, moreso in the final portions of the song . The word “ask” at 5:05, for example, is sung quite freely — and the difference was so obvious in the sound that I predicted he had relaxed and opened his mouth for that one word even before I returned to the tab and backtracked the video to verify.

  10. Cuttlefish says

    ddpej– Waits has several different voices he uses in his singing, from a very mellifluous baritone on most of the album “Closing Time”, to the gravel and growl of “Swordfishtrombones”, to near-screaming to falsetto to at least two different spoken-word voices.

    There are people who love his early stuff and hate his later, and vice versa, and of course those who love all of it or none of it. The first song of his I heard was “The Piano Has Been Drinking“, and I was hooked. It took me a bit to warm up to some of his later stuff, but it is a taste well worth acquiring. There are songs I can’t listen to without crying (“Georgia Lee” is one), and others I have sung as lullabies to my kids. I have never seen him in concert live (although you can see him on Austin City Limits in 1978), but I have friends who have, multiple times, and who highly recommend it.

  11. Trebuchet says

    If you listen to him, you’ll hear that he’s absolutely 100% on pitch.

    I noticed that as well. No autotune, either. I’ve listened to one more song since that one (Jersey Girl) and will be listening to more. He clearly takes some getting used to.

    Re the next post up: Waits is clearly a village something. Just what, I’m not sure.

  12. ddpej says

    Cuttlefish– Thanks for the info! Having perused some of his other pieces, I’m definitely partial to his melodic singing over the more gravelly style. (I’m much more comfortable with this distinction than merely throwing relative time distinctions around, it seems. My inner stickler considers it more accurate that way.)

  13. Blanche Quizno says

    I, too, thought you might be planning a sojourn Down Unduh!! I went in 1990 – it was terrif, would love to go back, can’t boooooooo :(

    Have you seen Tom Waits in any of his acting roles? Among a surprising abundance of roles, he played Renfield in a Dracula and, rather predictably, a homeless bum :) – since he’s primarily a music man, they list those credits. Page down to where it lists him as “Actor” and you can see his films. He did some music for “Fight Club”, one of my favorite movies. Though I didn’t like it *AT ALL* the first time I saw it…but I digress…

  14. Cuttlefish says

    Many, many times, Blanche– my favorite so far (by far) is his uncredited role in The Fisher King, just before (if memory serves) the amazing Grand Central Terminal waltz scene.

    (I visited Grand Central Terminal with my pal Kylie, who is actually an award-winning dancer, and I soooooooo wanted to replicate that scene… sadly, I can’t dance, and it would have involved a few hundred people to do it properly, so that kinda fell through.)

    So far, I have not seen him in anything where the movie was not made much better by his presence. Including, of course, his music–again, notably, “Night On Earth”… There have been movies that I swear have been redeemed from unwatchability just with one Tom Waits song… “Somewhere” at the end of … something forgettable..

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