Tom Waits is perhaps our greatest living artist. Go ahead, debate me, my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Somehow, after 14 years of DJing I manage to keep only about 200 albums at home. Just my favorites. Whole releases that can be listened to all the way through without a bad song ruining the experience. These albums are precious to a DJ/producer who, after a long week choosing music, now wants the artist to do the work.
And out of 200 records, the Beatles had the most of any one act (Abbey Road, Let It Be, The White Album, Rubber Soul, Magical Mystery Tour, Sgt. Peppers) in my collection. Tom Waits used to come up second in that contest (Rain Dogs, Swordfishtrombones, Heart of a Saturday Night, Orphans, Nighthawks at The Diner) but with this new release he is now tied for first.
In the Summer of 2008 Tom Waits toured to only a handful of cities and towns in the Southern U.S and around Europe. All of his fans who couldn’t go were really disappointed. Tom rarely goes on tour, but lucky for us he just released a live album of the show! It’s called Glitter and Doom Live (same as the tour name). There are two discs. The first is put together to sound like his live show -- 17 songs from 10 different shows.
Here’s the opening song... don’tcha wish you were there?
The most fantastic part of this concert is that he plays songs from all through his career. From one of his best records, Rain Dogs (from way back in 1990), he does “Singapore”:
And a live version of this song from his 2004 album, Alice:
Disc 2 of Glitter and Doom Live is called “Tom Tales” and is a collection of the stories he tells to the audience during sets. Tom is influenced as much by poet performers like Charles Bukowski and Jack Keouac as he is by crooner Bing Crosby and piano genius George Gershwin. I have a theory that he also is influenced by gravel-voiced guys like Howlin’ Wolf or Louis Armstrong, since his records before 1975′s Nighthawks at the Diner have a smooth-sounding voice rather than the raspy character he’s played since.
Glitter and Doom Live jumped right into my number one album spot for 2009. And it’s also on my top 10 of the decade list. Thanks, Tom!
Michele Myers spins Saturdays from 3-6pm on KEXP. Each week she picks a favorite album or artist to play 3 in-a-row from. She produces KEXP Documentaries. And DJs on KEXP’s sister station 91.5FM WNYE in New York City every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 6-9am.