Encyclopedia > Tom Waits

  Article Content

Tom Waits

Tom Waits (born Thomas Alan Waits, on December 7, 1949 in Pomona, California), is an American author, composer, and actor.

Waits' recording career began in 1971, after he relocated to Los Angeles and signed with Herb Cohen[?], manager of Frank Zappa, among others. After numerous abortive recording sessions, his first record, the melancholic, country-tinged Closing Time (1973) received warm reviews, but he first gained national attention when his "Ol' 55" was recorded by The Eagles in 1974. The Heart Of Saturday Night showed his roots as a nightclub singer, half speaking and half crooning ballads, often with a soft jazz background. The 1975 album Nighthawks at the Diner, recorded in a studio but with a small audience to capture the ambience of a live show, captures this phase of his career, including the lengthy spoken interludes between songs that punctuated his live act.

Small Change (1976) was jazzier still, and songs such as "The Piano Has Been Drinking" and "Bad Liver and a Broken Heart" cemented his hard living reputation, with a lyrical style pitched somewhere between Raymond Chandler and Charles Bukowski. Foreign Affairs (1977) and Blue Valentine (1978) were in a similar vein, but showed further refinement of his artistic voice.

1980 saw the commencement of a long working relationship with Francis Ford Coppola, who asked him to provide music for his film One From The Heart. Waits would also act in Coppola's Rumblefish, The Outsiders, The Cotton Club and Dracula (as the insane Renfield), and work with such directors as Jim Jarmusch and Robert Altman. With his wife, he wrote and performed in Big Time, a slightly surreal concert movie.

After he left Asylum Records[?] and his marriage with Kathleen Brennan[?] (1980), his music became less mainstream. His trio of albums from the mid-1980s, Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs and Frank's Wild Years, all featured eclectic instrumentation to some extent, often marrying soul music horn sections to avant-garde percussion or the distorted guitar of Marc Ribot[?]. The last of these albums, an off-broadway musical co-written with his wife and the later collaboration with William S. Burroughs on The Black Rider both demonstrated the increasing interest in theatre, which has resulted in a somewhat successful acting career as well as soundtrack work.

In the popular perception, however, he and his work remain mostly characterised by his rocky voice, his strong personality and theatrical presence on stage and the "late night smoky bars" humour of his texts ("I'd rather have a full bottle in front of me than a full frontal lobotomy."). Waits has been reported as having bipolar disorder.

In essence, however, and despite his songs having been covered by such famous stars such Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart, Waits remains a cult performer, steadfastly outside the mainstream.


  • 1973 Closing Time
  • 1974 Heart of Saturday Night
  • 1974-75 Nighthawks at the Diner (Live)
  • 1976 Small Change
  • 1977 Foreign Affairs
  • 1978 Blue Valentine
  • 1980 Heart Attack & Vine
  • 1982 One from the Heart (Soundtrack)
  • 1983 Swordfishtrombones
  • 1985 Raindogs
  • 1987 Frank's Wild Years
  • 1988 Big Time released. (Live CD, Movie and Video)
  • 1992 Bone Machine (which won him a Grammy Award for "Best Alternative Music Album")
  • 1993 Black Rider (collaboration with William S. Burroughs
  • 1993 Jesus Blood Never Failed Me (orchestral work by Gavin Bryars, Waits appears as guest singer)
  • 1999 Mule Variations (another Grammy, for "Best Contemporary Folk Album")
  • 2001 Blood Money
  • 2001 Alice


External link

  • [1] (http://tom-waits.spb.ru/lyrics/all_lyrics_e.php3) - lyrics

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article
Ocean Beach, New York

... the village had a total population of 138. Geography Ocean Beach is located at 40°38'52" North, 73°9'28" West (40.647743, -73.157729)1. According to the United ...

This page was created in 32.8 ms