Glenn: Now is the time of the year that Rain Dogs makes it to the stereo and my girlfriend asks me, “Why does Tom Waits sound so romantic?”
Phil: I can’t speak to this one: all I can say is I hate this version of “Downtown Train” as much as Rod Stewart’s. And it’s a great song. You should probably ignore me on this post.
Jordy: I love these Island records. Some time around 1983, Tom Waits must have had some catharsis that moved him from bawling, grisly, gravelly nightclub croonings to surreal but often touching freak show poems. And Rain Dogs stands as perhaps his most “romantic” as Glenn’s girlfriend puts it. But before I get into those schmultzy tunes, I want to mention the edgier songs like “Jockey Full of Bourbon” and “Tango Till They’re Sore.” These songs continue the boozy standard Waits had set with Swordfishtrombones: weird and dubious characters, overplayed horns, solid, stripped-down rhythm section, all under Waits’ yowling.
Submitted for your approval: two versions of the same song. The original, by New Order, and the cover, by Iron & Wine. Both have their merits, but this is a fight to the finish (is there any other kind of fight?). Which version of the song is better? This is completely subjective. I like both versions of the song for different reasons. I appreciate New Order for coming up with the song and writing such great lyrics, but I feel the Iron & Wine version is more evocative and truly does justice to the lyrics. But now, instead of bloviating, I am going to make my voice heard in the poll, and so should you. It takes two clicks.
Man does not live by psychedelic fusion freakouts alone. Those of you who like to nosh on, y’know, actual food would do well to check out my girlfriend’s new food/cooking blog, The Food Processor. Simple, tasty food, with simple, tasty commentary. Warning: you may get hungry. And you may find a photo of me chowing down on a delicious pita.
I know I tend to go on and on about Neil Young on this blog, but you need to see this clip (now 20 years old) of the man and Crazy Horse (with some ersatz drummer) on SNL. It is unbelievable. Keep in mind that he was in his mid forties when this performance was recorded.
Talk Talk used to be another Duran Duran until they holed up in a church and refused to let EMI hear anything from their fourth LP (Spirit of Eden). Imagine, if you will, a horrified record executive listening to this commercially unpalatable nonsense, flabbergasted at a lack of anything resembling a single and no way to put on a successful world tour.
In any case, Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock (their final LP) are important records, the products of fertile and talented musical imaginations (most notably that of Mark Hollis), records that transcend genre and time. If someone put out this record last year, it would be hailed as a triumph. If they had put this album out in the seventies, it would be a hidden gem.
But this is a post about harmonicas, and I have never heard a harmonica sound like this. All distorted and anguished and writhing, a beast of a thing, a perfect introduction to this brilliant “fuck you” of an album. I mean seriously, harmonicas from a band that used to be just another new wave band? Brilliant.
Over the past couple days, I’ve been re-watching the totally flippin’ awesome Bob Dylan documentary, No Direction Home, and got to thinking about songs with ol’ Zimmerman’s stage name in the title. Here is a Syd Barrett song of questionable quality (sorry, Crazy Diamond); a Minutemen barn-burner, stone-cold classic; and a wispy Wilco folk-er, off the great More Like The Moon EP, downloadable here.
As a bonus, I offer two Bob-Dylan-In-The-Title tunes by Bob himself (just try not to laugh along with 115th). Enjoy. And watch the movie if for some reason you haven’t already.