Tom Waits is an acquired taste. When I was younger, I really didn't care for him. As I've aged, I can listen to certain albums with admiration.
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To see him live is almost impossible for few reasons: Rarely tours and once on tour the tickets are more-likely sold shortly after announcement if announced. Street ticket scalpers would sell tickets to you for near 10x the actual price. He's a nation's #1 underground Artist, Actor, maestro and songwriter. Downloaded movie "Ironweed" and can't archive or delete it cuz always wanna watch mainly of TW not Jack Nicholson that picks up the identical roles in all his movies that are played with one his standard style.
Lucky you if you don't care of TW at all. You don't have to wait and spend large dollars for his concerts.
Back in the 1970s, I had the great good fortune of seeing Tom Waits -- this was, I think, on the "Small Change" tour -- in a 2,000-seat venue, a university's Fine Arts Center. Just before the start of the show, a kid from the group that promoted concerts at the college came out to the front of the stage to make a couple of announcements. He listed some upcoming shows, reminded us all that there was absolutely no smoking in the Fine Arts Center, and then asked us to give a warm welcome to Tom Waits.
Waits shuffles out, steps up to the microphone, fires up a cigarette, and asks (in his inimitable voice), "What's that the kid said about smoking?"
He and his band are brilliant, playing for maybe 90 minutes. The crowd is enthralled. When they step off, the same kid comes back to inform us that Mr. Waits and his band will be back for a second set after a short break. After a few minutes, Waits comes back out, by himself, to inform us that there's been a misunderstanding, that the set we'd heard was all they'd planned for that particular evening. But since we'd been promised more and were all sittin' there waiting for more, he and the band would come back out and play us a few more songs. "Just give us a couple of minutes and we'll be back."
Obviously, the crowd was thrilled, but not as much as at the end of the second set, which lasted a good hour. Thirty-five years later, I still remember this as one of the best shows I've attended.
For someone who might find his later year voice, and the overly affected style of his music a bit off-putting, I would recommend the two volume complilations of "Early Year" recordings (recorded before his big commercial releases, but actually released much later). These simply arranged recordings highlight his song writing skills, which are prodigious, and are more listenable to those who are not his hardcore fans.
hi...my first post on audiogon...nice society we got here...about Mr. Tom Waits...he has rich discography...he is endem...rare true artist...folks who trow bad words bout Mr. Waits havent listen to his music werry well...or they got no class...his music is experimental...bunch of everything but mixed with style...so you have to got rafined taste of music not listen to only one type of music...his voice is instrument...one of greater lyricist of all time IMO...his lives are like new album...he understands music...he makes albums...not 2 3 good songs on album...im not trying to be his lawyer in this post...what i wanted to say there are two kind of people in the world...one who loves Tom...and others who dont know they love him...i suggest him on vinyl...much better musical presentation...
I'm a huge, no enormous, no ginormous Tom Waits afficianato. When I was much younger I saw him at the Backdoor at San Diego State (snatched one of the handbills off a pole and have it framed hanging in my bathroom). I own nearly all of his stuff on vinyl. I admit, a few of his offerings are a difficult listen, but his songwriting...at times is simply amazing. His newest is very good.
I was first exposed to Tom Waits when I was 13 (I am now 35). It was a video I watched on Much Music (Canada's early answer to MTV). The video was engaging and weird, totally off-beat and utterly different to anything that I had ever seen up to then (and a good bit of anything well into my 20s).
I hadn't acquired a taste for his music until maybe 10 years ago and now I am hooked. First it was Alice (and Blood Money should have followed but I waited ten more years before I ever heard Blood Money). Then on to his first 5 albums which are absolute gems. I started jumping around after that but unlike the poster above who wasn't fond of Glitter and Doom, I was totally captivated. A live album of serious stuff with absolute laughs and a grand final set of Tom Waits telling odd-ball stories and singing a bit too. I was and still am, totally enamoured if only because he seems to be legitimately cool without trying. Just that type of guy who has gone through life with ups and downs and has chosen to tell tales of them all. The fact that he has stuck it out with his wife, has some great kids, is active in his community, at schools and art galleries, I just feel he is a man with integrity whether one likes his music or not.
In the music biz, I find it hard to locate those with true integrity. That's part of his magic, then comes his brilliant lyrics, his odd merging of vaudeville and avantgarde experimental blues rock with some tongue 'n cheek pop ditties and one has if nothing else, a very unique listening experience. Helps that I totally dig his voice, the more weathered the better. Kinda like Leonard Cohen, but without the overactive sexual innuendo.