Song of the Day #4,301: ‘In the Neighborhood’ – Tom Waits

The charms of Tom Waits have largely eluded me, though I can’t say I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure them out.

One of Waits’ most celebrated albums, Swordfishtrombones, was released in 1983. It marked a move for Waits from piano and strings toward more obscure and eclectic instrumentation, introducing the old-fashioned circus vibe for which he is now well-known.

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Song of the Day #3,054: ‘Union Square’ – Tom Waits

waitsHere’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.

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Song of the Day #2,808: ‘Way Down in the Hole’ – Tom Waits

wire_season_twoOne 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.

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Song of the Day #1,675: ‘Hang Down Your Head’ – Tom Waits

waitsI 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.

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Lessons from a theme week

teacherSo 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.

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