Waits, Tom

I have a tough time describing Tom Waits. My advice is always to just pick up something like "Heartattack & Vine", "Heart of Saturday Night"
or "BlueValentine" and let him sell you on his genius. I was introduced to Tom Waits in a similar way that I was introduced to John Hiatt and about the same time. 

Every Friday, back in University, I would take the bus from Toronto back home to Niagara. I always tried to pick up a few CDs at Sam The Record Man before I jumped on the bus. One day I was going through the "cheapie" section and there were 5 or 6 Tom Waits CDs. 

Waits was another guy who I had heard of but never listened to his music. Being a huge Bruce Springsteen fan I knew that he wrote Jersey Girl and I remembered seeing his name on the Eagles "On The Border" album. So, I thought why not try this guy out. I picked up Heartattack and Vine because it had Jersey Girl on it and I headed to the bus. 

I remember putting it in the Walkman and listening to the first few songs thinking "what the hell is this I'm listening to?" I thought I had just wasted $10. I didn't have much else to listen to so I thought I'd give the disc another chance and listened to in it's entirety. Well, after a 2 hour bus ride I was hooked. The lyrics were amazing - "How do the angels get to sleep when the devil leaves the porch light on". Brilliant!!! 

Needless to say, I headed back to Sam's the next week and scooped up a few more. Gradually I became obsessed. I couldn't get enough. Until I bought Bone Machine. Whew...that took some time to get used to. However, now it is one of my favorite Tom Waits pieces. And I'll always remember my dad walking by my bedroom saying "who is that, Louis Armstrong on Crack!?" 

I can credit Tom Waits for opening my eyes to an entire new genre that I never listened to in the past - Jazz. Because of Mr. Wait's music I am a big Charlie Parker fan, Stan Getz and Charlie Barnett. Not to mention all of the other great Jazz artists whose music I have purchased over the years. And then there is Chuck E. Weiss and Alen Ginsberg!