Tom Waits is a musical hack. He was born independently rich, ripped his entire schtick off of more talented and original artists, and has fooled people into thinking he is actually relevant.
Thanks for that incisive commentary. After all, the amount of money a person has bears quite a bit on their talent, skill, and creativity. You don’t bother to mention who he ripped off or what he did to fool anyone into thinking anything.
All told, your opinion is worthless, unfounded, and way off base.
Of all the fuckwitted moronic bullshit I have seen in blog comments, Kevin’s remarks take the cake. For shitting out loud, Miles Davis grew up wealthy; could anyone possibly argue that his art suffered for his access to material comfort?
Seriously, Kevin. You fail on those grounds alone.
Toss in the fact that Waits is a brilliant lyricist, a daring songwriter, and a consummate performer, and your stupidity shines through like sunlight in a sewer grate.
Wow. You really suck.
Hmm, accounts vary about how Tom Waits’ upbringing went, perhaps due to his tendency to spin yarns, something he stole from more original artists like The Brothers Grimm and Jon Lovitz. But I’m pretty sure his dad really was a Spanish teacher, and I don’t think that sets you up for much of trust fund.
But let’s hear your side of the story. Where do you get the independently wealthy bit?
It’s true that his present-day coffers have been lined with the fruits of well-reasoned lawsuits against corn chip companies and auto manufactures who thought him inventive enough to imitate him without his permission.
And ripping an ‘entire schtick’ off of various artists to me is inconsistent with my notion of one man, one schtick. His influences exist in his music as a synthesis, which is where art comes when it deigns to be produced in societies.
@Barry, et al.
A friend of mine was managed was Bob Duffy. Duffy was Tom Waits room mate for years and produced Waits’s first three Albums. Here is the run down on why Waits is a dickbag:
For years Tom Waits spent hours everyday trying to perfect his vocals by copying the recordings of an old poor blues artist called Screaming jay Hawkins.
A few years ago Screaming Jay hawkins got a Levi’s commercial, Tom waits sued the company and Screaming Jay Hawkins and won. He successfully got a settlement and had the commercial removed. (stopping the guy he ripped off from making the best money he may have ever made in his career)
Rolling Stone contacted Bob Duffy and asked for a comment, understandably he flipped out and told Rolling Stone how Tom Waits ripped off his style from Screaming Jay records.
Tom Waits is no longer friends with Bob Duffy.
But if you’re a middle class white person it’s a lot easier to buy a Tom waits record than to research the music it copied.
Also Waits’ music sucks too.
1. You seem to want class (and now skin color) to count against both the performer and his audience. That’s a poor foundation for an argument and totally rude.
2. Tom Waits’ voice sounds as much like Fozzy the Bear as it does Screamin Jay Hawkins (who I happen to be a fan of, but perhaps you are too white or middle class to ask questions before jumping to conclusions). If you are trying to argue that Tom’s voice is a wholesale rip off of Hawkins, your argument sucks. If you are arguing that Hawkins influenced Waits, what a bombshell! Are you going to tell us next that Bob Dylan didn’t really sound like an old man in 1962? How about Santa Claus? He’s real, right?
3. You fail to mention that when Tom Waits sued Levi Strauss & Co., it was for using his song Heartattack and Vine without permission. Hawkins or no Hawkins, I wouldn’t want my songs being used to sell jeans, even if I were compensated for it (which Waits wasn’t.)
4. Assuming your friend’s manager’s story is true as you’ve presented it, sounds like it could just as easily be sour grapes on his part.
5. Even if this Duffy story is true, it speaks to one aspect of Tom Waits’ personal life. And here’s the funny thing: maybe Waits *is* a raving dickhead. I don’t know or care. What I care about is the innovative oeuvre of an artist who has devoted a career to synthesis and destruction of lyrical and musical cliche. If that makes me too white, so be it. If that indicates that I come from a middle-class background, well, I have yet to see why I should be ashamed of the lovely circumstances into which I was born.
Tom and Screamin’ Jay must have been getting along enough at some point for Screamin’ Jay’s versions of “Heartattack and Vine” and “Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard” to appear on most Screamin’ Jay best-of comps I’ve known.
When were Bob Duffy and Tom Waits roommates for many years? Tom Waits lived at the Tropicana from 1975 and married Kathleen Brennan in 1980, and only after the latter did the influence of and comparisons to other gravelly singers like Beefheart and Hawkins arise. The music he made before then sounded much folkier, and apparently had enough merit to convince Frank Zappa to sign him and the Eagles to cover him.
So the timeline puts the Duffy-Waits friendship at pre-1975, where Tom Waits would have had 3 albums at his belt, and as his persona evolved, comparisons to Louis Armstrong and the Beats, which he acknowledges prima facie as wearing on his sleeve (he said he loved to be seen with Beat books and soul and jazz albums) were far more likely.
Musicians from Miles and Charlie Parker to Jimi Hendrix and Gwar have all acknowledged periods in their creative development when their nascent individuality as musicians was spurred on by imitation. Tom Waits never made a buck during the period you mention by aping Screaming Jay Hawkins, so who cares if he did it in his bedroom? I doubt very much that his eyes looked like dollar signs at the time.
You seem to discount the entire notion, as I mentioned before, of good music as synthesis. While the aesthetic of Tom Waits’ vocal instrument can be narrowly looked at as similar to other singers-who-can’t-conventionally-sing, I fail to see how through the consistently original body of his work you cannot recognize a developed and intelligent artist. Further,
I think he passes the real litmus test as a performer; if you locked him in a room with a bunch
of crap to bang on, he’d make something worth listening to. He has and he does.
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