Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Tom Waits - WMMS Coffee Break Concert - 1975

Another Tom gem for you, and one of his final solo outings... I could listen to these tunes over and over, and hey, so can you now! This time he's on the air for Cleveland station WMMS, on their Coffee Break show. Unlike the Howard Larman interview for KPFK, the interviewer here, Kid Leo ("sitting in for Matt The Cat"), in attempting to strike up a cool rapport with Waits elicits the first signs of the ornery mule familiar to so many who've had the privilege/misfortune of interviewing him. In using phrases like "laidback Lenny", and with attempts to buddy up to Waits, we can sense Tom bristling a bit, which seems to almost cause an allergic reaction, as Tom coughs and snivels throughout the interview sections, and he's noticeably resistant to Kid Leo's requests for certain songs. That said, he does open up quite a bit, and that makes this a great document of the young Waits.

The performances, both musical and verbal, are impeccable, and the audio quality is great (this was originally taken from a sound-board recording, and is presented here as 192 kbps MP3). In a quick verbal detour with the DJ, when discussing influences, Waits uses a favourite phrase: "passing out wolf tickets". In trying to find out what the hell he meant I discovered that, in an interview for Playboy in 1988, he attempted a definition himself: "Another one I like is wolf tickets, which means bad news, as in someone who is bad news or generally insubordinate. In a sentence, you’d say, “Don’t fuck with me, I’m passing out wolf tickets.” Think it’s either Baltimore Negro or turn-of-the-century railroadese." This is from his 'nocturnal emissions' period, where his shows featured a lot hipster beat-speak raps, his verbally florid monologues in which his gift for wordsmithery and the alchemy of imagery get full rein... and it's great!

This show also finds Waits slagging of The Eagles when discussing their cover of 'Ol' 55', which, according to Barney Hoskyns, in his great book Hotel California: Singer-songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the L.A. Canyons 1967-1976, Waits regretted later on: "I was a young kid... corkin' off and being a prick... I talked to Don Henley about that, and I apologised and I took it all back and we patched it up". Humility and contrition from Mr Waits? We like it! He further elucidates the Catch-22 of youthful aspirations to stardom and consequential ego issues succinctly thus: "It was saying "Notice me" ... followed by "Leave me the fuck alone", sometimes in the same sentence". He's an articulate ol' bugger our Tom, and you gotta love him, warts and all.

Tracklisting: Drunk on the Moon / Interview / Eggs and Sausage / Interview / Better Off Without A Wife / Interview / Putnam County / Ol 55 / Interview / Nighthawks Postcards / Interview / Warm Beer and Cold Women / Ghosts of Saturday Night / The Heart Of Saturday Night


Anonymous said...

good luck with your blog ;)

stay tuned

cheeba said...

Seriously cool this one. Can't say I'm the biggest Waits fan (i.e., I only have a half-dozen or so of his LPs) but do enjoy his personality.

It's amusing to hear that bravado of youth from him after being so used to his well-worn worldliness the past couple decades. Cheers FG!

Baby Breeze said...

Found you through the CTI Never Sleeps. Great stuff, and really fun and interesting descriptions that put things in perspective and add a personal touch.

Nick Dagan Best said...

Any chance of posting new links for this? Thanks!

Di Fu Shi said...

Would it be possible for you to roupload this gem?