• The Passion of the Weiss
  • Gorilla vs. Bear
  • Greencine Daily
  • Music Is Art
  • Shake Your Fist
  • Big Stereo
  • The New Yorker
  • The Torture Garden
  • Ear Farm
  • J'ai la cassette à la maison
  • The Hater
  • The Yellow Stereo
  • Movie City Indie
  • Fader
  • Covert Curiosity
  • Chromewaves
  • Sucka Pants
  • AV Club
  • Tinyways
  • Palms Out
  • Girish Shambu
  • So Much Silence
  • Heart On A Stick
  • Untitled
  • Sixeyes
  • The Documentary Blog
  • Contrast Podcast
  • Fecal Face
  • Quick, Before It Melts
  • Muzzle of Bees
  • La Blogothèque
  • The Rawking Refuses To Stop
  • Music For Kids Who Can't Read Good
  • indieWIRE
  • Gimme Tinnitus
  • Conscientious
  • Toothpaste For Dinner
  • Cable & Tweed
  • Culture Bully
  • Oceans Never Listen
  • Juxtapoz
  • I Am Fuel, You Are Friends
  • Subinev
  • Bookslut
  • Filles Sourires
  • Berkeley Place
  • Get Underground
  • Nah Right
  • Motel de Moka
  • Raven Sings The Blues
  • Fact
  • Missing Toof
  • Badical Beats
  • Clap Cowards
  • Chuckmore
  • Anthem
  • It's the right thing to do
  • Something is wrong here, something is terribly wrong
  • There ain't no life for me on land
  • The greatest #8: The Dreaming
  • Still I walk in darkness
  • Home of the cheesesteak, the beef piled sky high
  • Blogiversary #2
  • Blood rain
  • The best 15 films of 2007
  • The best 30 albums of 2007
  • The best 30 singles of 2007
  • The best 30 songs of 2007
  • The Greatest #6: Veedon Fleece
  • Behind the blog: Blogs Are For Dogs
  • It's winter again and New York's been broken
  • Blogiversary
  • Up high and ugly: Xiu Xiu MP3s
  • The Greatest #2: New Skin For The Old Ceremony
  • Behind the blog: The Passion of the Weiss
  • The best 15 films of 2006
  • Good clean fun: Clean Guns MP3s
  • Behind the blog: Music Is Art
  • United 93
  • The best 30 albums of 2006
  • The best 30 songs of 2006
  • The best 30 singles of 2006
  • The chapter in my life entitled San Francisco
  • The Up Series
  • Review #4: Ys by Joanna Newsom
  • Happy Yom Kippur
  • Rock bottom riser: Smog MP3s
  • Justin Ringle
  • Dan McGee
  • Sebastian Krueger, pt. 2
  • Sebastian Krueger, pt. 1
  • Bry Webb
  • Greg Goldberg, pt. 2
  • Greg Goldberg, pt. 1
  • Benoît Pioulard, pt. 2
  • Benoît Pioulard, pt. 1
  • Kevin O'Connor
  • Conrad Standish
  • Chris Bear
  • Owen Ashworth
  • Andrew Bujalski
  • My Photo
    Location: Brooklyn, NY

    The MP3s available here are for sampling purposes. Please support the artists by buying their albums and going to their shows. If you are the artist or label rep and don't want an MP3 featured, let me know. Links will otherwise stay live for about two weeks before they vanish into the ether.

    If you'd like to send music, art, writing or promo material for consideration, email me at nerdlitter[at]yahoo[dot]com. This site is designed in Firefox and may not look optimal in other browsers. You can get Firefox here.

    Powered by Blogger

    Thursday, March 08, 2007

    I never talk to strangers: Tom Waits MP3s

    Photo by Michael O'Brien

    Given Tom Waits' clear penchant for spoken word, it's curious that his efforts don't receive more attention. Even among Waits' gruff, idiosyncratic oeuvre, they can't help sticking out as oddballs. I can't think of too many (any?) artists on his level who so often include a spoken word performance, or who do it so brazenly. He has to realize the riskiness of it; he probably also revels in that very risk.

    Because pieces like "What's He Building?" from Mule Variations can't help instantly switching up the mood and momentum of the album. I'd say that it serves as an intermission, a breather, among all the bizarreness and emotion around it, but it doesn't really. "What's He Building?" provides no letup, just another variation and mutation of the album's themes. If anything, it only ratchets up the malevolence. The word "Indonesia" has never sounded so sinister and suspicious in its existence. The industrial backbeat pollutes our brains with possible if grotesque answers to the titular question. Other than perhaps "Filipino Box-Spring Hog," it's Waits' showiest, most confident moment on Mule. He's so arty and theatrical on it, he practically purrs.

    The more you think about it though, the more it makes sense. The spoken words are an ideal outlet for Waits, another manifestation of his many talents. With his well-documented love of film and theater, these interludes give him a new way to act. And there's also his past as a whiskey-drenched Hopperian (Edward, with a side of Dennis) bohemian in the '70s, which probably disposed him to songs that can be spoken as much as sung (see "Step Right Up" for one).

    He's continued his devotion to speech to this day, closing out the recent Orphans with a story. It's one of the best tracks on the entire three discs, and more shining proof of his verbal skills. The story is in turns funny, sentimental, sweet and tricky, every one of which he nails. He delivers the few punchlines with Borscht Belt timing and his obvious pleasure in storytelling is so infectious it's epidemic. In one anecdote, Waits delivers what other singers can't do in whole albums; of course for him, that's just a part of the conversation.

    * MP3: "Missing My Son" - Tom Waits from Orphans
    [Buy it]
    * MP3: "What's He Building?" - Tom Waits from Mule Variations
    [Buy it]
    * MP3: "The Ocean Doesn't Want Me" - Tom Waits from Bone Machine [Buy it]

    Tags: , , , ,

    Comments on "I never talk to strangers: Tom Waits MP3s"


    Anonymous Rap Jack Bauer said ... (10:44 AM) : 

    Is anyone in history cooler than Tom Waits? Seriously?


    Blogger Insomnius said ... (8:25 PM) : 

    Spoken word and Tom Waits go together beautifully. If you haven't heard him reading Allen Ginsberg's "America", I thoroughly recommend that you do.


    Anonymous RJB said ... (11:00 AM) : 

    Don't forget about "9th and Hennepin" from RAIN DOGS. It's my favorite spoken word piece from Tom.


    post a comment