Monday, April 14, 2008

The Epitome of Cool

Tom Waits, at the ripe old age of 58, has more awesomeness in his pinky than most people do in their entire bodies. The old musician/innovator/actor/composer has transcended more musical genres (and more importantly managed to stay relevant) for four decades.
If you don't know who Tom Waits is, don't feel bad. Most people don't despite the fact that he has somewhere around 15 albums, almost all of which have received wonderful reviews from the best critics in the business. Tom Waits has a style all his own. He started out playing rock and blues songs that you would expect to hear at a bar at 3 o'clock in the morning, right about the time the bartender is taking the last call for alcohol. But over the years, he got tired of playing that kind of music of and branched out to a new style of music which brought him the most acclaim. A mix of bluegrass, folk, and vaudevillian compositions, Waits came up with a style of music that sounded like the kind of creepy carnival you would expect to stumble upon in a nightmare. However, he never only plays that naturally dark kind of music. He also has a very gentle side to his music, where he usually sings about the things that most matter to a person when they get older (which if that sounded like an underhanded bash at his lyrics, it wasn't...they are actually more enlightening when they are coming from someone who really has seen it all).
One aspect of Waits' coolness is his voice. It sounds like Waits was born in the backwoods of Arkansas in a junkyard under a carburetor that was badly rusted. You think thats an overstatement? Wait till you hear his voice. I have posted two videos so you can fully grasp the scope of his music.
The first is the darker style of music, and the song is called Chocolate Jesus. My favorite part of the video is where he starts to dance around the stage in the middle of the song with more style, charisma and originality than artists half his age. The megaphone he uses in front of the mic is an example of how much of a musical innovator he is, as the megaphone makes his voice distorted and makes it sound like you're listening to a record on vinyl.
The second song is his gentler side, a song called Take It With Me. Its a song about a man who is spending time with his wife at the end of his life and he is contemplating all the beautiful memories he will take with him into the afterlife. Its a sad song for everyone but the man who is passing on who seems optimistic about his passing. It is beautiful. The video isn't much to look at but it was the only one I could find that had the song. Hope you enjoy.


Nene said...

He reminds me a little of Bob Dylan - not how he sings, but what he sings about. He also reminds me - in how he sings - a little of Janis Joplin. I like him.

Stace-Ghost said...

He kinda creeps me out...but you knew that ;-)