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Music Review: Tom Waits – Swordfishtrombones

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The speakers pop as I gently lay the needle on the groove. A static hiss, a crack from an almost invisible amount of dust and the music begins to waft.

I lay down, lights out, to listen and be absorbed with the serenade.

It is my time, a personal moment when nothing in the world will bother me. I tune out everything else and just focus on the lyrics. Granted they aren’t the easiest to focus on, but I try nonetheless.

Tonight’s musical selection is Tom Waits, Swordfishtrombones. I found this gem in the stack of new records at my favorite music store in Cheyenne, Wyo. Ernie Novembers. On that day I was able to purchase two Misfits albums, the new Dropkick Murphys album and of course the aforementioned Tom Waits. All on vinyl. All waiting for the needle to be dropped on them to fill my ears with bliss.

But again, tonight is a meeting of myself and Mr. Waits.

For the uninitiated, Tom Waits is an American singer-songwriter of limited fame. More directly, he has a cult following of fans that are as eclectic as he is. Mr. Waits has also stared in films. Most famously he is known as the portrayal of Renfield in the film Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

The album begins pretty gently. Waits is singing in his iconic whiskey-soaked-too-many-ciggarette-smoked-bar-room-laden-voice. It almost lulls me into a false sense of relaxation. It’s night time after all and I am trying indeed to shove out the trials and tribulations of the day and unwind. So far so good.

But as is common for Waits, the record changes so fast that it causes palpations in the heart and a twist of the brain.

The album breaks into an almost manic circus theme. Invoking images of crazed carnival vendors hawking their wares in some sort of acid induced vision of hell. A child’s worst fear of circus dreams, or rather, nightmares. No wonder clowns are scary!

But that’s what so amazing about Waits. His absolute willingness to lull us in and wrap us in a nice warm blanket. He fluffs our pillow and allows us to slowly, softly, fall asleep. And then just as quickly tear us apart and throw us in front of a moving steam engine cruising through at top speed. More than likely laughing the entire time as we scream our last breath right before being slammed in to oblivion!

Thank you very much!

The speakers pop and I am pulled from my musical revelry. My eyes open and my brain begins to acknowledge the world around me. The dogs are barking, the cats are playing, and various other things are happening in my home.

I get up, bring in the dogs, separate the cats, and turn off the lights in the living room and dinning room. I shuffle some things here and there in an attempt to shake off the musical journey I just returned from. I stop in the dinning room and look around. Wait, I thought, there is another side.

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  • Fremont, NE

    What the?! Seriously, man, get a new hobby. This “review” is awful.