Will Ables, Trashwire’s resident music writer, is a big fan of Tom Waits. In fact, he’s such a big fan that he’s compiled this list of reasons why no one will ever be as cool as Tom Waits. He’s even backed it up with video evidence.
10. Just watch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C49H3aWdiK8
You‘ll need a cigarette and a cocktail. You just had sex with Tom Waits.
9. Xylophones. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnBzDD_O1Fg
Read that again: Xylophones. An instrument that is entirely fucking useless with two exceptions: Scrabble and a Tom Waits Song. Waits rescues useless instruments from the refuse heap (what the hell is a Basstarda?!) and weaves them into a song where they stand out like melodic nails on a chalkboard or disappear into a wall of bizarre sound. It’s amazing.
8. Fuck Morgan Freeman. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHOHi5ueo0A
Tom Waits needs to narrate everything.
7. That thing with the LAPD. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHOHi5ueo0A
I’d like to tell you this story while quoting a reputable source (Mr. Waits is obviously not included in this for really fucking obvious reasons) but that just doesn’t seem like fun. This is one of those tales that has screamed past just being a “musician’s story” and become downright mythic. Tom Waits stands up for the common man? Tom was a little drunk and mouthed off to a pissed off cop? Who knows, who cares. There were guns involved. There was much violent poetry. And in the end the city of Angels had to write Mr. Waits a check.
6. He likes to win. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lX1qpcDchD4
Oh and then give it all away. Tom Waits will sue you if you’re a dick. He does not give a shit. Don’t use him in a god damn commercial, especially not without his permission, or you will be sending him money. A very large amount of money. But do you know what Mr. Waits does with those checks he makes you write? He gives the money to charity. Who does that? Tom Waits does.
Although when you’re this charming, I feel like giving him money anyway.
5. Cookie Monster http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5X4N2exOsU
I know, it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen too.
4. Tom Waits Private Listening Party http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeTja7JXK9A
What the hell is that? Who can possibly be that weird? Why can’t I be like that?
3. Did I mention he can act? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yod51lr3F0U
Ok, he’s mostly played variations on Tom Waits but who really cares. Variations on Waits is brilliant. The man looks like he could break out a story at any moment, like he already knows all there is to know about you, and like there’s absolutely no getting away from him. He’s scary as shit and has a disturbing vulnerability about him. Like you couldn’t possibly mess this man up anymore than what he’s already done to himself. Plus cool chicks dig him, which helps.
Also, if I have to go to hell the Devil better fucking look, dress, and sound like Tom Waits. Otherwise he’s just doing it wrong.
2. Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, & Bastards http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2bNMpAGfFQ
Songs that no one wanted, except not really. For anyone else nearly any song on here would have defined them stylistically. That or pretty much determined exactly the sort of thing everyone would expect from them from then on. But that’s just not Waits. He has played in every style and done it just about better than everyone else. He’s not ashamed to try something ridiculous and, even when he is being outlandish and just bizarre, the fact that he just loves every fucking minute of what he’s doing practically oozes out of the tracks. That’s what makes Orphans so brilliant. It’s a love letter to a career, to fans, to music. And these are the songs that didn’t make the cut. (“Walk Away” is a song off Orphans but I really just wanted an excuse to include that video.)
You can’t pull this off. Don’t bother; you’ll look like an idiot. He doesn’t. That’s all there is to it.