Here’s my first Tom Waits song since February of 2013, when another track from Rain Dogs popped up as a Random iTunes Weekend selection. As usual, this is the first time I’ve heard a song from that album since that earlier post.
I’ve never paid much attention to Waits, though he’s clearly worthy of it. He’s particularly effective as a poet of the streets, a role Bruce Springsteen rode to much greater heights.
One of the cool things about The Wire is how each season focused in on a particular subset of Baltimore citizens, even as the core cast remained largely the same.
Season One introduced on a special crime task force utilizing the titular wire to build a case against the city’s major drug runners. That group of cops and lawyers form the spine of the whole series. But the smaller universe of characters in that season were a group of “corner boys” caught between their criminal bosses and the police.
I downloaded Tom Waits classic 1985 album Rain Dogs because it’s one of those records that serious music lovers needs to know. Sort of the way that serious film lovers need to have seen Taxi Driver.
I haven’t actually listened to the whole thing through yet so today’s random selection is new to me. I like it well enough.
So my goal this week was to single out some artists I’ve heard about but never really heard. I went with two bona fide legends (Tom Waits and Patti Smith), two lesser-known but well-regarded 70s bands (Buzzoccks and Faces) and one contemporary artist who enjoys great critical acclaim (Bjork).
Overall, my takeaway is that I wasn’t missing much. I’m most intrigued by Tom Waits, though his voice remains a stumbling block, and I like the idea of Patti Smith even if her song didn’t completely sell me. Faces seems like a generic 70s rock band. Buzzcocks wrote a great song but their style isn’t up my alley. And Bjork is intriguing but too much of an art-school show-off to really grab me.
My theme this Monday through Friday is artists who I have somehow never managed to listen to despite high praise from fans and critics alike. The next five selections are all people or groups who I’m very much aware of without hearing a note of their music.
I’m not talking about somebody like Neil Young, who I have consciously decided to avoid because I dislike his voice. I’m talking about artists who, through bad luck or happenstance, have just never crossed my radar. Here’s their chance.