Day 99: Tom Waits – Small Change

7 Jun

Pasties and a G-String

I do not like Tom Waits.  I’ve never liked Swordfishtrombones, I did not like the first five minutes of Nighthawks at the Diner that my dad inadvertently had me listen to, and I definitely do not like Small Change, his replacement this Dad-Rock Tuesday.

 I’ll be straightforward here.  I cannot stand Mr. Waits’ voice.  That’s it.  That’s why I don’t like his music.  This is a strange occurrence for me, because I’m a huge proponent of the “vocals themselves don’t matter, content of the vocals matter” mindset.  As I’ve stated before, two of my favorite bands—Los Campesinos! and The Hold Steady—are known for their…unconventional…voices.   Mr. Waits takes obnoxious vox to a whole new level, though.   His voice is often described as “gravelly,” but I don’t think that does it justice.  It’s gravelly like my alley the week before its annual grading—bumpy, painful, and capable of popping tires if driven across too quickly.

Maybe I’d be able to deal with Waits’ cringe-inducing voice if he didn’t rely on it in every single song.  Seriously, not a moment goes by on Small Change without your ears being molested by something that does not appear to be of this planet. Just listen to Pasties and a G-String.  If you don’t punch something multiple times while listening to that track, there’s something wrong with you.

Or maybe there’s something wrong with me.  Everyone loves this guy.  I guess we can add Tom Waits’ work to the ever-growing list of “classics” that go straight over my head.


3 Responses to “Day 99: Tom Waits – Small Change”

  1. B. Frank June 12, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    The man’s a damn genius, and, often, pretty funny. I implore you to give him another chance. Listen to “Mule Variations” or, if you prefer a sweet-voiced Tom, “Heart of Saturday Night.”

  2. Dave Chops June 13, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

    Right with you, B. But Tom’s voice is a love it or hate it thing. At 13 years old I had the exact opposite reaction to Swole Ear with Nighthawks at the Diner – and I have loved him ever since. Scarlett Johansson (with the TV on the Radio Guy), Holly Cole and John Hammond Jr. have done entire albums of Waits covers. Bette Midler was an early champion along with her then musical director, Barry Manilow, who famously said that he loves Tom because he “sings from the kischkes”.. And he is funnier than hell. Swole Ear not big on live albums? Check out the guy’s last one, Glitter & Doom, on which Tom reworks pretty much every song in interesting and transformative ways – and also put out as free MP3s other equally different versions for free – because that is how huge his talent and imagination are. I feel sorry for the people who get stuck on the voice, but there you are. More seats at the shows for the rest of us.

  3. Alex June 23, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

    That was one of the cleverest Rick Rolls I’ve ever fallen victim to. Kudos.

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