An Introduction to Tom Waits in Slack Messages

I've never been able to get into Tom Waits. I understand the cultural significance of his songwriting, I can appreciate his poetic answers to interview questions ("my father was an exhaust manifold and my mother was a tree") but for one reason or another, the music just didn't seem to resonate with me. It bothered me. I wanted to hear what other people heard in him. So, I turned to my friend and colleague, Luis Angel Cancel, who's well-versed in all things Waits, to have him try and show me the light over Slack. 


[10:39] Thomas McDermott: I haven't really given Tom Waits a fair shot but I want to. where do I begin?

[10:40AM] Luis Cancel: OOOOH

[10:40AM] Luis Cancel: I've got a great place to start. ok. ready?

[10:43AM] Thomas McDermott: ready

[10:44] Luis Cancel: a lotta people get turned off by his voice before they get a chance to develop a taste for it. in this cover of a song from West Side Story, the "flaws" in his voice only help to make the song fucking ACHINGLY beautiful. it's almost like an undiscovered Louis Armstrong track.

[10:47] Luis Cancel: let me know how your spine feels when the trumpet floats up like a plume of smoke

[10:48] Luis Cancel: and then let me know when done, for your 2nd course

[10:50] Thomas McDermott: Damn his voice is insane

[10:52] Luis Cancel: he's long said his songs are either orphans, brawlers, or bastards. Somewhere is an "orphan". a sad ballad. A bastard is a weird one. so here's the best one of those

[10:53] Luis Cancel: but here's the real reason this song is great. the LIVE performance was the SHIT. and so much better

[10:54] Luis Cancel: he sings thru a megaphone. the drummer strikes a giant iron ring behind his kit

[10:54] Thomas McDermott: fuuuuuck

[10:55] Luis Cancel: when that video's done i'll give you a brawler. makes me wanna get in a bar fight in tijuana. here's the tijuana bar fight song:

[10:58] Thomas McDermott: wow this one is really fun

[10:58] Thomas McDermott: they're all so different

[10:58] Luis Cancel: once that chorus hits. then the fucking flaming hot guitar solo

[10:59] Thomas McDermott: yeah I love this 

[11:04] Luis Cancel: Ok, the next one I absolutely love. I can't hear it without thinking of it as a weary, blue collar grandpa just impulsively strolled over to the piano in this rowhome and improvised this song for while his wife of a million years looks on with a little smile

[11:05] Thomas McDermott: that piano is incredible

[11:05] Luis Cancel: the last line could make me weep I swear to god

[11:06] Luis Cancel: This one sounds like a ritzy Parisian apartment where illicit shit goes down

[11:07] Thomas McDermott: haha that's perfect

[11:07] Luis Cancel: ok if the last one is carnal behavior in fancy Parisian apartments, this one is roaming the streets of a european city alone, feeling like a ghost

[11:08] Luis Cancel: This one you can hear what made him a great writer for Springsteen

[11:09] Thomas McDermott: damn I really dig this one

[11:09] Luis Cancel: success

[11:10] Luis Cancel: This is one of the weirdest ones I like, it's like if the captain of a pirate ship broke into song

[11:10] Luis Cancel: then half-way through it turns into a drinking song.

[11:11] Luis Cancel: and we'll close with one of his hits. prominently featured in the Basquiat movie. just beautiful.

[11:11] Luis Cancel: also note how fucking perfect every album cover is

[11:12] Thomas McDermott: seriously. that last one. goddamn. 

[11:14] Luis Cancel: he looks like the guy your dad calls when he needs something CNC-machined.

[11:14] Thomas McDermott: hahaha

[11:16] Luis Cancel: how can you not love this guy?

[11:16] Luis Cancel:

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Thomas McDermott