Tom Waits

Tom Waits’ 1970s lyrics focused on low-life, desperate characters. He also created a persona that seemed like he was living the same life, singing with a raspy gravelly voice. His work evolved into more theatricality as he began to compose and act in the 1980s. Waits was born in Southern California and attracted the attention Herb Cohen, his manager who also managed Frank Zappa. He signed Waits in the 1970s to release the material later known as The Early Years and The Early Years Vol. 2. Closing Time (1973), his first recording, was released by Asylum Records. It contained “Ol’ 55”, which was later covered by fellow labelmates the Eagles on their On the Border album. His subsequent albums, The Heart of Saturday Night (1974), Small Change (1976), Foreign Relations (1977), Blue Valentine (1978), Heart Attack and Vine (1980), attracted critical acclaim. His music and persona were highly cinematic. He began his career as an actor in 1978 and continued as a composer and producer of movie music. He was an actor in Paradise Alley (1978), wrote the title track for On the Nickel (1980) and was hired by Francis Coppola to compose the music for One from the Heart (82), for which he received an Academy Award nomination. Waits married Kathleen Brennan, a playwright, while working on the project. Waits moved to Island Records and made Swordfishtrombones (1983), in which he experimented with horns, percussion and unusual recording techniques. He also appeared in Coppola’s Rumble Fish and The Outsiders that year. In 1984, he was part of the director’s The Cotton Club. He released Rain Dogs in 1985. He appeared in Down by Law in 1986 and made his theatrical debut in Frank’s Wild Years in Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre. This musical play was written by Brennan. In 1987, a soundtrack album was released based on the play. Waits also appeared in the films Candy Mountain (and Ironweed) in 1987. He released Big Time, a soundtrack and film album in 1988. He appeared in the 1989 films Bearskin: An Urban Fairytale and Cold Feet. Waits continued his theater work in 1990, when he teamed up with Robert Wilson, an opera director, and William Burroughs, a beat novelist. He staged The Black Rider in Hamburg. He appeared in Queens’ Logic and The Fisher King in 1991. He scored Night on Earth in 1992; released Bone Machine, which won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album. He also appeared in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In Hamburg, he returned for his second collaboration with Robert Wilson: Alice. In 1993, The Black Rider was recorded on CD. Waits also appeared in Short Cuts. Beautiful Maladies, which is a retrospective of Island’s work, was released in 1998 after a long hiatus. Mule Variations, Waits’ new album, was released in 1999. It was a critical success and won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. This was also Waits’ first album for Epitaph Records’ Anti subsidiary. Waits returned to the studio immediately and started work on not one, but two more albums. Both Alice and Blood Money had been released by Anti Records by the time Waits emerged in 2002. Blood Money was a collection of songs from the third Wilson/Waits partnership that was staged at Denmark’s Theatre in 2000. It won Best Drama of The Year. Waits released Real Gone in 2004, after a limited tour in support of these projects. This album was a significant departure for Waits in that it featured no keyboards and only stringed and rhythm instruments. Glitter and Doom Live were released in 2009. Waits did not release another studio album with new material until 2011, when Bad as Me was released on Anti in Fall. Uncharacteristically, he issued a track listing two years before the release and also the digital single of the title track. Uncharacteristically, he also released a video where he allowed parts of the album’s songs play while scolding bloggers and peer-to–peer sites for violating his privacy. From

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