Monday, November 21, 2011

Tom Waits

     Tom Waits. Tom Waits. Tom Waits. Alright fine, I suppose a little more explanation is necessary. Tom Waits is a mysterious, cynical entity that I'm pretty sure has been around for thousands of years, and, in the early 1970s, became a singer, songwriter, and actor.
     During the last half-century, Mr. Waits has built up quite a persona, a character who lives on the underside of the world, who came out of the days of carnivals and vaudeville,  who has seen more tragedy than he can mourn, who has seen more comedy than he can laugh at.
     He began to be recognized when he started opening for Frank Zappa. When it became apparent that he was meant for higher ground, Waits signed with Zappa's manager Herb Cohen, and his trademark raspy, gravelly voice was released to the world. He has continued releasing albums steadily up to now, and looks like he means to continue.

     In 1978, Waits somehow sneaked his way into a movie, called Paradise Alley.  He played he few more small roles until 1986, when directer Jim Jarmusch discovered him and decided for some reason to cast him in a lead role in an important film Down By Law. I think we can say confidently that Jim Jarmusch and Tom Waits understand each other, as they have collaborated on multiple more times, most notably in the 2004 film Coffee and Cigarettes. Other films he has worked on include Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, and Wristcutters: A Love Story.
     In the end, Tom Waits is a true genius, one of rock and roll's most eccentric personalities, a quirky, unflappable, sneering poet who was born too late for him and too early for our descendents. Here are some videos, so you too can discover one of the greatest,  most shamefully unknown artists of our time.