I want to discover the music of Tom Waits. Where to start?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by UCrazyKid, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. Instant Dharma

    Instant Dharma It’s 2112 Somewhere

    East Bay, Ca
    Yeah he nailed it...start with Small Change and Swordfish for the more esoteric stuff. The thing about Waits is that the songs are always there, its not about the clanging jackhammers and found objects, they always serve the song.
  2. malcolm reynolds

    malcolm reynolds Handsome, Humble, Genius

    For me Mule Variations has it all. That is my vote.
  3. beatlesfan9091

    beatlesfan9091 Forum Resident

    It’s also worth mentioning that Real Gone was remixed recently and the remix is significantly different from the original album. So definitely check out both versions of that.
  4. Koabac

    Koabac Self-Titled

    Los Angeles
    I'd say pick the most recommended one from before "Swordfish.." and also the most recommended one after "Swordfish.." Hopefully, from there, you'll just go on a mad Waits spree until you have everything.

    Depending on your taste in other music, Waits may take some mental adjustments and easing into because, despite any comparisons to other artists, he is really in his own world doing his own thing and that world/thing can be as abrasive and challenging as it is stunningly beautiful. Give him a chance, then another - then 12 more. Waits and your ears can be like the stars of a romantic comedy - they hate each other at first until they realize they've mixed up their strong emotions and it was really eternal love all along. When and if it clicks, he could very well end up on your Mt. Rushmore of artists. I think he's worth whatever you put into him.

    Best wishes to the two of you. Drop us a postcard, let us know how it goes.
    Andy Pandy, Favre508, eeglug and 3 others like this.
  5. Swordfishtrombone, his masterpiece and then Raindogs. The earlier stuff is nowhere near as good but Closing Time and Blue Valentine give as good a taster as anything else.
  6. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Forum Resident

    I like all eras of Tom but I might start with Heart of Saturday Night, Small Change, Raindogs and Swordfish Trombones. That would give you a general arc of his career. Some of his stuff is more lush and romantic like Foreign Affairs, and some is more edgy and dissonant like Bone Machine. If you buy the suggested LP’s you’ll know enough about him to decide if you want to hear more.
    Eric_Generic likes this.
  7. Peace N. Love

    Peace N. Love Forum Resident

    Trouble it's really like talking about two (or more) different artists. I really like a lot of the early stuff. I first discovered him via Swordfishtrombones, and I later came to love the earlier work (especially One From the Heart) - but they are barely recognizable as the same artist. And then most of his stuff after the early '90s I didn't care for (although I love some of Alice).
  8. Holerbot6000

    Holerbot6000 Forum Resident

    Anything new on the Tom horizon? It's been about 8 years since the last record and I know he isn't getting any younger...
    Koabac likes this.
  9. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Westfield, IN USA
    Start here:

    You won't be disappointed. :hide:
  10. posnera

    posnera Forum Resident

    I did and I am a big fan!

    I think I would send a new listener to Mule Variations. Or Rain Dogs.
  11. arthurprecarious

    arthurprecarious Forum Resident

    North East England
    Haven’t read the other suggestions - get:

    Mule Variations

    If you don’t like em give up. Tom Waits is not for you....
  12. cdollaz

    cdollaz Forum Resident

    My favorites:

    Small Change
    Rain Dogs
    Blood Money
    Real Gone
  13. ljohnfoxx123

    ljohnfoxx123 Lord Foxx Of Chorley

    Heart of Saturday Night
    Steve Litos likes this.
  14. ljohnfoxx123

    ljohnfoxx123 Lord Foxx Of Chorley

    If your up to it... there are tons of 70's bootlegs on torrent.... that are absolutely essential IMHO
  15. cublowell

    cublowell Forum Resident

    Pittsburgh, PA
    I started with Mule Variations, which is blues-based enough to give me a fair chance to catch on to the Waits style. Once that resonated with me, I got Heart of Saturday Night, which is probably my favorite Waits album. From there, I picked up the rest.

    One of the things I love about Waits is that he dives into influences & genres I really don’t have any interest in, & makes music from them that I love. If anybody else made Alice or The Black Rider, I wouldn’t have paid attention. Waits makes weird make sense.
    Eric_Generic likes this.
  16. citizensmurf

    citizensmurf Strange Mathematics, Rhythmic Equations

    This is a great album, and one that my wife and I bonded over when we were first dating. She saw my Tom Waits CDs and played me this. Her interpretations of Tom's songs are classics themselves.
    Eric_Generic, pscreed and timind like this.
  17. R. Totale

    R. Totale The Voice of Reason

    I started with "Nighthawks at the Diner" and would suggest you do too.
    spindly and Michael Macrone like this.
  18. TMegginson

    TMegginson Forum Resident

    I started with Rain Dogs, in the '80s. That was perfect.
    jas621 and Ellen1014 like this.
  19. Rising Sun

    Rising Sun Forum Resident

    New York
    "Raindogs" for me his peak, number one
    "Swordfish Trombones" a close number two.
    Ellen1014 likes this.
  20. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk Thread Starter

    I've gotten through Closing Time and Small Change this afternoon. I enjoyed them both.
    Thanks everyone for the suggestions and guidance. I'm going to jump around a little bit now and then maybe return to chronological listening.
  21. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk Thread Starter

    I am now loving swordfishtrombones!
  22. The Cat 3

    The Cat 3 Desaparecidos

    53rd & 3rd
    The Heart of Saturday Night
  23. vince

    vince Stan Ricker's son-in-law

    Two words......
    "BIG TIME"!
    audiotom and Beatnik_Daddyo'73 like this.
  24. manicpopthrill

    manicpopthrill Forum Resident

    Ha! That’s exactly where I started as it had just come out and I had read a review. A mind blower for a 19 year old kid raised on radio, but I wouldn’t change a thing. A great album.
  25. Dr. Luther's Assistant

    Dr. Luther's Assistant dancing about architecture

    San Francisco

    That's actually pretty much where I started. It's the first one that really grabbed me. (I seem to recall that I tried to like Swordfishtrombones -- probably due to the globally coveted Declan MacManus Endorsement -- but it just wasn't happening. I wasn't ready, I guess.)

    Now -- everything from Swordfishtrombones forward is golden in my eyes. The man can do no wrong by me.

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