For his third album, Nighthawks at the Diner, Tom Waits set up a nightclub in the studio, invited an audience, and cut a 70-minute, two-LP set of new songs. It's an appropriate format for compositions that deal even more graphically and, for the first time, humorously with Waits' late-night world of bars and diners. The love lyrics of his debut album had long since given way to a comic lonely-guy stance glimpsed in "Emotional Weather Report" and "Better Off Without a Wife." But what really matters is the elaborate scene-setting of songs like the six-and-a-half-minute "Spare Parts," the seven-and-a-half-minute "Putnam County," and especially the 11-and-a-half-minute "Nighthawk Postcards" that are essentially poetry recitations with jazz backing. Waits is a colorful tour guide of midnight L.A., raving over a swinging rhythm section of Jim Hughart (bass) and Bill Goodwin (drums), with Pete Christlieb wailing away on tenor sax between paragraphs and Mike Melvoin trading off with Waits on piano runs. You could call it overdone, but then, this kind of material made its impact through an accumulation of miscellaneous detail, and who's to say how much is too much?
Grapefruit Moon: The Songs of Tom Waits is Southside's tribute to one of his favorite songwriters, but also a pet sound: big band music. The idea to marry the brassy, ballsy sound of a big band to Tom Waits' cinematic, character-driven songs has been sitting in the back of Southside's mind for sometime.
In the 1970s, Tom Waits combined a lyrical focus on desperate, low-life characters with a persona that seemed to embody the same lifestyle, which he sang about in a raspy, gravelly voice.
Tom Waits, raconteur, poet, singer, pianist, writer, genius and one-man revivalist of a bygone world, in a 1978 concert from Austin, Texas. Hear the emerging star, strikingly young and self-assured in his compelling skid-row persona, as he takes us on a series of amazing journeys, at once comic and poignant, and full of the down-at-heels characters only Mr. Waits can bring to life. In songs like "On The Nickel," "I Wish I Was In New Orleans," "Romeo Is Bleeding," "Small Change" and others, Waits conjures up an entire universe all his own. One of the most idiosyncratic writers and performers is captured at an early moment in his amazing and influential career. Recorded Live on December 5, 1978 in Austin, Texas.
Tom Waits' debut album is a minor-key masterpiece filled with songs of late-night loneliness. Within the apparently narrow range of the cocktail bar pianistics and muttered vocals, Waits and producer Jerry Yester manage a surprisingly broad collection of styles…