When I was growing up, my Dad basically only played Tom Waits, John Prine, Mississippi John Hurt, and Steve Earle. He was literally ahead of his time. John Prine is having a resurgence lately, which cracks me up knowing that I was 5 and listening to Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian. My Dad also played many others like the Stones, Dylan, Neil Young, etc., but the former are the ones that stuck out to me as being different.
Tom Waits was the most foreign, horrible noise I’d ever heard during these formative years, but now I get it. I got it five years back while on tour actually, driving through the Alps in Switzerland and then again while driving through Germany and Belgium. I remember taking a stroll through a neighborhood in Brussels, right before all the horrible terrorist attacks a few years back, listening to Tom Waits. I remember walking and thinking how perfect this soundtrack was, but how not perfect this neighborhood of Brussels I was walking through was. It was a scene straight out of Jack Ryan. The world is a big place, with culture you and I will never understand being here in the United States. But, for some reason the music of Tom Waits and the neighborhood I walked through clicked together. That’s the power of true art and the power of leaving your shell and being fine with whatever happens. That’s freedom and that’s what I look back on in retrospect now as my Dad played Tom Waits on his 4 track cassette recorded off a WMNF 88.5 radio show in his workshop outside in the backyard next to the Hillsborough River. He was probably naked, because it was Florida and hot as hell in the summer in that workshop.
I got the opportunity to play Letterman in his last year before retirement. Tom Waits literally closed Letterman out and I stumbled across this video again. Brings this man a tear or two, not gonna lie. Time to cover this track and take a stroll through Brussels again.