Tom Waits’ favorite albums

Tom Waits and his favorite albums. They’re some of the GloNo staff’s faves too…

The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street

“I Just Want to See His Face”–that song had a big impact on me, particularly learning how to sing in that high falsetto, the way Jagger does. When he sings like a girl, I go crazy. I said, “I’ve got to learn how to do that.” I couldn’t really do it until I stopped smoking. That’s when it started getting easier to do. “Shore Leave” has that, “All Stripped Down,” “Temptation.” Nobody does it like Mick Jagger; nobody does it like Prince. But this is just a tree of life. This record is the watering hole. Keith Richards plays his ass off. This has the Checkerboard Lounge all over it.

Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man

Euro, klezmer, chansons, apocalyptic, revelations–with that mellifluous voice. A shipwrecked Aznavour, washed up on shore. Important songs—meditative, authoritative. And Leonard is a poet, an extra-large one.

Bob Dylan – The Basement Tapes

With Bob Dylan, so much has been said about him. It’s difficult so say anything about him that hasn’t already been said, and say it better. Suffice it to say Dylan is a planet to be explored. For a songwriter, Dylan is as essential as a hammer and nails and a saw are to a carpenter. I like my music with the rinds and the seeds and pulp left in, so the bootlegs I obtained in the ’60s and ’70s–where the noise and grit of the tapes became inseparable from the music–are essential to me. His journey as a songwriter is the stuff of myth, because he lives within the ether of the songs. Hail, hail The Basement Tapes. I heard most of these songs on bootlegs first. There is a joy and an abandon to this record; it’s also a history lesson.

Bill Hicks – Rant in E-Minor [LIVE]

Bill Hicks–blowtorch, excavator, truthsayer, and brain specialist, like a reverend waving a gun around. Pay attention to Rant in E Minor; it is a major work, as important as Lenny Bruce’s. He will correct your vision. His life was cut short by cancer, though he did leave his tools here. Others will drive on the road he built. Long may his records rant even though he can’t.

Captain Beefhart – Trout Mask Replica

The roughest diamond in the mine, his musical inventions are made of bone and mud. Enter the strange matrix of his mind and lose yours. This is indispensable for the serious listener. An expedition into the center of the earth, this is the high-jump record that’ll never be beat. It’s a merlot reduction sauce. He takes da bait. Drink once and thirst no more.

The Pogues – Rum Sodomy & the Lash

“Dirty Old Town,” “The Old Main Drag”–Shane has the gift. I believe him. He knows how to tell a story. They are a roaring, stumbling band. These are the dead-end kids for real. Shane’s voice conveys so much. They play like soldiers on leave. The songs are epic. It’s whimsical and blasphemous, seasick and sacrilegious; wear it out and then get another one.

Lounge Lizards – Lounge Lizards

They used to accuse John Lurie of doing fake jazz–a lot of posture, a lot of volume. When I first heard it, it was so loud, I wanted to go outside and listen through the door, and it was jazz. And that was an unusual thing, in New York, to go to a club and hear jazz that loud, at the same volume people were listening to punk rock. Get the first record, The Lounge Lizards. You know, John is one of those people, if you walk into a field with him, he’ll pick up an old pipe and start to play it, and get a really good sound out of it. He is very musical, works with the best musicians, but never go fishing with him. He is a great arranger and composer with an odd sense of humor.

Sam Phillips – Martinis & Bikinis

Peculiar, innovative, soulful, and reasonably undiscovered, with a deeply expressive voice and challenging and unusual topics for songs. Kurt Weill with a revolver. Her cracked vocals and surreal lyrics make for an odd and familiar ride. She and T Bone [Burnett] make her face yellow, her hair red, and give her a third eye, and together they make tough records. She’s Dusty Springfield via Marianne Faithfull with a dash of Jackie DeShannon, but very much her own woman.

James Brown – Star Time [BOX SET]

I first saw James Brown in 1962 at an outdoor theatre in San Diego and it was indescribable–it was like putting a finger in a light socket. He did the whole thing with a cape. He did “Please Please.” It was such a spectacle. It had all the pageantry of the Catholic Church. It was really like seeing mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral on Christmas and you couldn’t ignore the impact of it in your life. You’d been changed, your life is changed now. And everybody wanted to step down, step forward, take communion, take sacrament. They wanted to get close to the stage and be anointed with his sweat, his cold sweat.

Houndog – Houndog

Houndog, the David Hidalgo record done with Mike [Halby]. Now that’s a good record to listen to when you drive through Texas. That’s a great record. I can’t get enough of that. Anything by Latin Playboys, anything by Los Lobos. They are like a fountain. Colossal Head killed me. Those guys are so wild, and they’ve gotten so cubist. They’ve become like Picasso. They’ve gone from being purely ethnic and classical, to this strange, indescribable item that they are now. They’re worthwhile to listen to under any circumstances. But the sound he got on Houndog, on the electric violin–the whole record is a dusty road. Hidalgo plays through stabbed amps and Mike and him find the “brown” sound–dark and burnished and mostly unfurnished. Superb texture and reverb. Lo-fi at its highest level. Songs of depth and atmosphere.

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