Thursday, September 29, 2016

40 Year Itch : Now the Dogs are Barking

Tom Waits : Tom Traubert's Blues

With songs like "The Piano Has Been Drinking ( Not Me)" and "Bad Liver and Broken Heart", Small Change chronicles a gruffer-voiced Tom Waits exploring the drunken life on skid row. That's something he literally did, according to producer Bones Howe who recalls a phone conversation he had with Waits about the lead off track "Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen":

"He said the most wonderful things about writing that song. He went down and hung around on skid row in Los Angeles because he wanted to get stimulated for writing this material. He called me up and said, '  I went down to skid row...I bought a pint of rye. In a brown paper bag -- hunkered down, drank the pint of rye, went home, threw up, and wrote 'Tom Traubert's Blues'. Every guy down there...everyone I spoke to (said) a woman put him there'."

Recorded in five days, Small Change was the first Tom Waits album to chart, peaking at #89. In my mind, this is the best Tom Waits album up until Rain Dogs.

Well, gee. I'd say there's probably more songs off that record that I continued to play on the road, and that endured. Some songs you may write and record but you never sing them again. Others you sing em every night and try and figure out what they mean. "Tom Traubert's Blues" was certainly one of those songs I continued to sing, and in fact, close my show with.

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