Tom Waits occupies a place that is truly unique in all of music. Early on in his career, Waits was known primarily as the guy who wrote all those great songs for laid back seventies “mellow-rock” artists from California like the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt. On his recent albums, even Bob Dylan has adopted the vocal “croak” made famous by Waits.
That same croak has become what people have come to know Tom Waits best by over the years, dating back at least as far as mid-seventies albums like Small Change and the classic Nighthawks At The Diner live set.
Tom Waits has taken on the role of everything from carnival barker to bohemian beat-poet, to seedy piano-bar lounge singer in his songs. There was even a period for awhile there in the nineties when he turned the Euro-noir of Bertoldt Brecht on its ear. The common thread running through most all of Waits’ songs though is his embrace of the dregs of society’s seedier underbelly.
With that unmistakable voice — it can best be described as the result of far too many nights of cheap, rot-gut whiskey and cigarettes — Waits has that part down to a science. From the guy eating his “Eggs And Sausage” on Nighthawks to the grifters hawking their wares on the corner of Heartattack And Vine, no one sounds quite like him. You’ll find bloggers discussing and dissecting the music of Tom Waits at sites like Eyeball Kid and Tom Waits Fan.