The devil shovels coal with crows as big as airplanes: the best of Tom Waits

Replacing the beret for a skull did wonders for Tom Waits’ cred. Movie ballads, sea shanties, Keith Richards collaborations, Delta blues, eating worms for Francis Ford Coppola — he’s beat you. His voluminous catalog defeats me; I relied on the CD-R I burned in the early 2000s of the beer ‘n’ Beats stuff and have fitfully kept up with his career since he and wife/chief collaborator Kathleen Brennan released album after album of songs about brawlers, boozers, and bastards this millennium. I prize Bone Machine most, bought in January 1993 and to my ears the peak of his clink-clank ethos whose shrewdness allowed him to issue more than a few maudlin things that attracted him to Rod Stewart (I adore his “Downtown Train” by the way). He let Marc Ribot pull Beefheart-inflected melodic noise from his guitar, allowing him the space to treat percussion like a second lead. Give him this: he found a way to fuse Flannery O’Connor, Howlin’ Wolf, and Streisand.

1. The Earth Died Screaming
2. Blue Valentine
3. Clap Hands
4. Who Are You
5. Swordfishtrombone
6. Hell Broke Luce
7. Such a Scream
8. Hoist That Rag
9. House Where Nobody Lives
10. I Hope I Don’t Fall in Love with You
11. Hang Down Your Head
12. Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis
13. Raised Right Men
14. Walk Away
15. Jersey Girl
16. Martha
17. All the World Is Green
18. Shore Leave
19. That Feel
20.Big Black Maria
21. Bad As Me
22. Cold Water
23. All Stripped Down
24. Rain Dogs
25. I Don’t Wanna Grow Up

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2 Responses to The devil shovels coal with crows as big as airplanes: the best of Tom Waits

  1. Andrew Iliff says:

    Only “House” from Mule Variations? I’ll always love “Big In Japan” – if it wasn’t the first time I heard Waits, it was the first time it sounded like he was singing in the present.

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