Monday, August 15, 2011

Review: Tom Waits on Tom Waits

Tom Waits on Tom Waits: Interviews and EncountersTom Waits on Tom Waits: Interviews and Encounters by Paul Maher Jr.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unsurprisingly, the Kirkus Review was unimpressed by Paul Maher's loving compilation of interviews with Tom Waits. They complained that he didn't include interviews from the big name magazines like Playboy and Rolling Stone. (What a surprise: Maher points this out in his introduction and explains that including them would have been prohibitively expensive and kind of silly since you can get most of those online.) Most of the interviews in Tom Waits on Tom Waits: Interviews and Encounters come from small music rags, but in some ways, I think that makes it truer to the evolution of Tom Waits's career, aesthetic and his life. A lot of the reporters covering his early shows were in the same position he was: following their passions and hoping those passions would be enough to pay the next month's rent.

This is one of those books that I read as a digital galley and kind of want to buy just to have a physical copy that I can flip through whenever I think all of my creative pursuits are worthless. In some of the early interviews, you can feel Waits's frustration with his work, his label and finding an audience (or not), and those interviews took place after he'd achieved a level of success most musicians only dream of. It's hard to create something new with every project and while Waits doesn't make it look easy, he keeps delivering interesting new work. That's pretty amazing considering that he has always been committed to writing his own songs, and working on achieving a sound that isn't quite like anything else.

The only problem with this book is I may have to go on a Tom Waits binge for the next six months.

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