Sunday, September 5

Musical Moment #4

I remeber it perfectly.

It was a Friday night and I was sitting on the couch at my friend Wade's house. His parents weren't home and we were listening to CBC on the radio. The Piano Has Been Drinking came on and I remember it was like a wonderful slap in the face. Huh? He's not playing the piano very well, missing a lot of notes, and his singing is like someone who's chewed a hundred razor blades. What the hell kind of music is this? I loved it.

That was my introduction to Tom Waits. I immediately (well, the next day, let's say) went and bought his The Asylum Years compilation double-album and was hooked, utterly and completely. I remember Colin (the guy who introduced me to The Clash, and whom I subsequently introduced to Hank Williams) saying that I was out of my mind for liking this guy. In fact, he was ashamed that would even suggest that he listen to John Waite. No, it's Tom Waits and you'll love it. And he did. We were two Parkdale PEI boys discovering a shared love of music, and spent the next year or so bringing new (to us) music to each other's attention. Wade's impression of Tom Waits: Meh.

Over the years, there've been a handful of artists whose records I'd buy irregardless. Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, R.E.M.... I gave up on REM first I think. I hung on to Elvis Costello longer than I should have, but eventually stopped getting his stuff automatically too.

Tom Waits, though. Album comes out. Rob buys it. I think he's the only artist now I trust to do that.

1 comment:

Nils said...

I was in third year University in Winnipeg when I was over at my friend Mitch's place. He used to habituate these record swap stores, just grabbing music that seemed interesting based on something significant, like who the producer or back-up players were .. or something trivial like "The guy's eyes on the album cover kinda followed me around the store".
He came home one day with Tom Waits, "Small Change" ... put it on, cranked it up ... and after some smooth piano, that voice came in ... "~Wasted and wounded ... it ain't what the moon did ...~"
Both our girlfriends screamed at us to "Turn it off!" "He sounds like he has throat cancer!"
But I was hooked. 30 years later, I'm gradually replacing all my Tom Waits albums with CDs when I find them. The longer I smoke, and the more I drink, the better my Tom Waits impersonation becomes. And I still love "Tom Traubert's Blues" as much as I did when I first heard it.