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Why Are People Pretending To Like Tom Waits?

This entry was posted on Mar 25 2013

It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, you can hear the screams. Or the groans. Or just the simple, desperate plea from someone with functional hearing to turn it off. One man whose only goal in life is to apparently irritate the senses. Through 121 near flawless minutes of Mystery Men¹, he was the only awful part. And one fundamental question is forever looming over a society that demands answers… Why is it allowed to continue? Tom Waits has been making music since 1973. Reread that sentence. Since 1973. Since 1973? That’s an abomination. That is pure negligence on someone’s part. I would petition that everyone involved in allowing his career to continue should be incarcerated for the rest of their natural born lives. No trial, straight to prison. Everyone. Except maybe the CEO’s of the record labels that gave the green light to his twenty-six albums. Those guys should be executed. Firing squad, maybe. Or like, we could fill a burlap sack with oranges and have the reanimated corpse of Macho Man Randy Savage beat them to death. It could be a pay per view special. All the casting directors who hired Waits to be in those movies should get the same punishment. Oh, and did you catch that number before? Twenty-six albums? That includes studio albums, live albums, and compilation albums. Allowing that many CD’s to make their way onto Best Buy shelves around the world is like an amalgamation of the Holocaust and the Trail of Tears.

Even Rebecca Romijn can't stand that shit!

One of my biggest regrets in life is letting my friend Kevin make me aware of who Tom Waits is and what he sounds like. The man’s voice sounds like a homeless guy gargling gravel. Kevin has unusually horrible taste in music. He listens to bands like Fleetwood Mac and artists like Annie Lennox that NO ONE has ever heard of. Annie Lennox’s parents don’t know who she is. Anyway, we’re driving in Kevin’s car recklessly down some random street. I’m clinging for dear life to something in the car that isn’t sticky with slime while Kevin barrels his Subaru down the road at an irresponsible sixty miles an hour through a school zone (while classes are letting out). “Hey pal, those are stop signs you keep passing,” I start, scared for my life. Kevin lights up another blunt. “What do they say? I can’t read the words, they’re too blurry. Also, I never learned how to read,” Kevin replies. “The words seem blurry because you’re driving past them too fast,” I explain. “You worry too much,” Kevin starts. “Listen to my terrible fucking music. That’ll calm you down.” Kevin plays a song by Tom Waits called “Hell Broke Luce”, which I originally mistake for the Hostel: Part II soundtrack. I figured it was just the screams of the victims being torn apart by chainsaws. The sounds of saws raking across bone. But it turns out it was “music”. And new music, too! I imagined that song being recorded in some rape alley thirty years ago, but no… 2011. Impossible. It’s impossible that music should be able to be this bad.

The really disturbing thing is that I keep coming into contact with people who not only enjoy the music of Tom Waits, but actively think the man is a genius. At first it was just a bunch of hipsters that were saying these things to or around me. If that was the case I would have just written their opinions off like I always do (see my article: The Black Keys Are Too Ugly To Make Music). But other normal, regular people started to say this stuff, too. Which finally led me to ask the most important question of the 21st century… Why are people pretending to like Tom Waits? There’s just no way that people could actually like his music. He sounds like garbage. Literally. His voice reminds me of trash cans scraping against each other in a rainstorm. And then feral raccoons start to fuck inside them. When I hear that shit, I don’t record it and play it for my friends. I close the windows. And then maybe destroy my eardrums. What would these people have to gain from pretending to like his music? Do they think by acting like they love Tom Waits’ horrible music that they are somehow hearing something incredible that nobody else is noticing? And then because of that, they can act like they’re better than the people who don’t consider Waits a genius? What’s their game? What are they up to? Why? Why are they putting themselves through hours of incoherent noise?

This woman discovered the perfect way to combat Tom Waits' music!

I’m not even sure how Tom Waits was allowed to release any more music after 1980. Especially after that lawsuit in Los Angeles, The Parents of John McCollum v. Asylum Records. The suit claimed that John McCollum, a depressed teenager who shot himself in the head, committed suicide while listening to tracks off Tom Waits’ album Heartattack and Vine, the last album released by Asylum Records. Tom Waits at one point even takes the stand, but he refused to testify amelodically. No one in the jury could understand his garbled singing so his testimony was dismissed. In the end, the judge reluctantly (he hated his music, too) sided with Waits. But still, that kind of bad publicity should have killed any future musical endeavors, right? Not to mention what Tom said immediately after the verdict was read…

Excerpt from the January 1980 issue of Cosmopolitan

“Yeah man, my music probably killed that kid. The first song on Side Two, “Til The Money Runs Out”, that’s all about how that dude should kill himself. Literally, that guy. I was in a Taco Bell last year and heard this kid John McCollum talking about how shitty his life was and I thought to myself, ‘That’s a number one song’. Well, I mean, it would have been a number one song if it was written and performed by anyone else. But since it was me it was really fucking awful. Completely impossible to listen to. But, the kid killed himself, so I guess I did my job. (laughs uncontrollably) I should be in prison! But I’m not! Fuck that family!”

Tom Waits might be a total hack, but the guy knows exactly what double jeopardy is all about, and he abused it in that interview. Still, you would have thought that after an admission like that no record label would want to sign this maniac, but sure enough someone did. Island Records and ANTI- would allow this madman to release a plethora of albums after that trial. But fine, mistakes happen. Horrible things happen in the world all the time, everyday. But that still doesn’t explain why people are pretending to like Tom Waits.

Eventually I became tired of the constant pondering of said dilemma. The Tom Waits conundrum was too much for my mind to take. It plagued me day and night. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t masturbate. Well, alright, I could masturbate. Actually, cum to think of it, my masturbation sessions had tripled since I started mulling over the situation. Letting hatred consume my body just gets me going. If you’ve read even one of my other articles, this fact is more than evident. Regardless, the chafing that resulted from the chronic pleasuring of my beat-stick due to the intense infatuation of hate forced me to pursue the answer to my question rather than continue to defy God by spilling my seed everywhere that wasn’t a woman’s vagina. Thus, I speed dialed the most successful and well renowned archaeologist friend I have on my phone, Mercutio Monte Cristo. He’s famous around these parts. He was thrilled to help with my endeavor, but felt we’d need someone to carry all our shit during the journey. I agreed, and suggested we abduct a child from the local park. A child that had the upper body strength to haul our gear, but not enough to defend against our advances. Mercutio thought it was an excellent idea, but informed me of a Sherpa that he used to have sex with constantly. The Sherpa’s name was Kalzang, and I wasn’t sure if it was a man or woman. I must have stared at Kalzang for like an hour without moving or talking and I just couldn’t determine this thing’s gender. Which made me uncomfortable. If Kalzang was a man, then Mercutio was gay, or at the very least bisexual. Gay guys love me. They find me irresistible. So this wouldn’t work. I would be concentrating on conquering the mysteries of the unknown and he’d be concentrating on my rockin’ body. At some point I’d have to pin Kalzang down and find out what was between it’s legs. You know, when the time was right.

If Mercutio looked more like Lara Croft, I'd have had a whole different set of problems...

We were scaling the Carpathian Mountains in Europe when Mercutio Monte Cristo discovered a crevasse that seemed peculiar. He lined the edges with a small amount of dynamite and detonated the charges. The explosion was larger than expected and we fell through the crater toward the center of the Earth. We plummeted a good nine thousand feet. We dusted ourselves off and walked away with only a few scrapes. Kalzang accidentally found the Book of the Dead, and upon reading several passages, awakened demons that had been dormant for centuries. After fighting off the swarm of undead, and giving Kalzang a stern talking to (fucking idiot), we ventured deeper into the caves until we came across a temple housed by ancient priestesses who were totally DTF. Mercutio and I wrecked those chicks. Specifically the ones with large chests who didn’t talk too much. I scolded myself for not paying attention to whether or not Kalzang banged any of the priestesses. I needed to start keeping my eye on the prize. Anyway, the sexually liberated priestesses were so grateful for the multiple orgasms we gave them that they rewarded us with scrolls thought to be lost forever. You guessed it, the scrolls possessed the secrets to why people were pretending to enjoy the music of Tom Waits. Also, Mercutio contracted gonorrhea. I told that guy to wear a condom. Those women had been living underground for hundreds of years and had no access to a gynecologist.

I arrived home late that night. The traffic was brutal. We hit almost every light. I needed to relax, so a glass of brandy was poured and the scrolls of civilizations long past were unrolled. To my shock, these weren’t the scrolls of civilizations long past. They were scrolls that pertained to a curse placed on select individuals by none other than Lucifer himself. Way back in the day, like sixty-three years ago, some of God’s archangels were messing around outside of the Devil’s house. The usual rebellious angel kind of stuff: toilet paper in his trees, shaving cream in the mailbox, dildos sticking out of the lawn. Real tasteless shit. So the Devil catches them in the act and calls the authorities. They arrest the archangels and bring them to God. God is furious. He’s like totally had enough of their antics. He grounds them and all, but the Devil isn’t satisfied. Tomorrow is his day off and he had no intention of spending his Saturday cleaning his front yard of vandalism. The Devil is threatening to press charges against God (since God claims the archangels as dependents when he does his taxes). God is having none of this. He’s already got two strikes and is still on probation. God decides to cut a deal with the Devil (as he’s accustom to).

Hey, that's just how archangels looked back then.

There’s something you need to know about the Devil. He’s a real jerk. Like, I really don’t know what that guy’s problem is. So, the Devil informs God that a child has recently been born. His name is Thomas Alan Waits. The Devil informs God that this child will grow up to produce the worst fucking music the world has ever heard. Everyday sinful, desperate people use the black arts to contact Hades in order to sell their souls for riches and other superfluous indulgences. They attempt to make these deals to gain fame and better their miserable lives. The Devil consumes their souls and grants their requests, but from then on those people are doomed to spend their eternity in Hell. The Devil explains to God that these souls are no longer enough to satisfy his thirst for chaos. He’s demands from God that from here on out, every person who successful sells their soul to the Devil shall still be granted their wish, but will have to live out the rest of their lives on Earth pretending to like the music of Tom Waits. They will have to listen to it almost all the time. They will hear his guttural singing voice as their inner monologue. They will have to tell their friends that they think Tom Waits is great, and try to get them to listen to his stuff. This will be the torture they shall have to endure for making a deal with the Devil. They will not be informed of this consequence until after their soul has been dealt. God soaks in this proposal and agrees to it almost instantly. ‘Cause like, fuck it, right?

I’m not sure what bringing this information to the public’s attention will do. I’m not sure if the damned that walk the Earth will feel any solace from their friends and family learning the truth. That they don’t really like Tom Waits, but rather are being forced into pretending to enjoy his music. If anything, I think I’d be more disturbed that this person I have known for whatever amount of time interacted with Satan and sold their soul… What does that say about their character? How could I ever trust that person again? And what did they get out of this deal? My friend Kevin that I mentioned earlier, he has apparently sold his soul to the Devil. And it kills me, because what did he ask for? He didn’t ask for a better personality or to advance further in his career. Wouldn’t those have been priorities? The only thing I can think of is that he might have asked for it to be socially tolerable (not even acceptable) for him to wear pajama pants at all times. Because that’s like all this dude wears. I’ve seen him wear pajama pants to church and funerals. I don’t know man, he’s seemed to gained nothing from this whole thing… It really makes me question his judgment. The dudes a mess.

I changed my mind, I'll sell my soul. Fuck it!

Why are people pretending to like the music of Tom Waits? Well, they have no choice. They’re soulless. They are literally being punished by God for being sinners and heathens. For wanting more and refusing to work for whatever their hearts desire. These people who own his CD’s and coax their friends into listening to a song or two, they are selfish and pathetic and will forever rue they day they decided to give up and take the easy way out. I can think of no better and more just comeuppance than having to hear Tom Waits’ voice in their heads. Maybe someday their suffering will end, but hopefully not too soon. They need to learn a lesson. But perhaps when Tom Waits dies, the curse will be broken. Don’t count on that to happen anytime in the near future though, because horrible people usually tend to live forever. So, what is the moral of this story? Do not trust people who listen to Tom Waits. If your best friend suddenly approaches you with that music, punch him right in the dick. He’s voided his ticket to Heaven and would push you in front of a bus as soon as hit the play button to start Mule Variations. If a small child runs up to you in the street wearing a Tom Waits shirt, ranting and raving about how you “just don’t get his music”, know that his articulacy was probably a gift from the Lord of Darkness, and be concerned that he was able to summon the Devil at such a young age. And even if your fucking mother presents you with tickets to Tom Waits’ next tour, be well aware that she is dead inside and never loved you. Oh, and I walked in on Kalzang in the bathroom hoping to see if it stood up or sat down when it pissed, but it was just taking a dump. So like, yeah, I’m still not sure. But at least that androgynous freak doesn’t listen to Tom Waits.

You don't even care what you're doing to people, do you?

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¹Have you people ever taken a look back at who was in Mystery Men? This cast is crazy and I don’t think we ever completely understood how crazy it was when we were kids. Ben Stiller, William H Macy, Hank Azaria, Kel Mitchell, Paul Reubens, Janeane Garofalo, Geoffrey Rush, Eddie Izzard, Artie Lange, Greg Kinnear, Dane Cook, and Dana Gould! Some of those guys are big names! Mystery Men was supposed to be the dumbest movie ever, but now I’m thinking I just may not have gotten it.


20 Responses to “Why Are People Pretending To Like Tom Waits?”

  1. …says the guy who listens to death metal.


  2. Tell Kevin, “The Piano Has Been Drinking” because “God’s Away On Business”.


  3. It was Ozzy who got sued by the McCollum’s not Waits.


  4. this was an amusing broadside and i enjoyed reading it. however, i would point out to the author that Waits was heavily influenced by the Beat authors, and so before you reject his stuff out of hand, you should probably at least make mention of the structures and ideas that they were rejecting before rejecting THEIR stuff. otherwise you run the risk of coming off as pretty square. and even if your goal of demolishing Waits’ value as an artist never waivers, you would still be able to do a better job of that if you displayed some grasp of what he was trying to do. just something to consider.


  5. Slightly irrelevant, but I find the ugly girl pretending to be Lara Croft (who is supposedly good-looking) more offensive than Tom Wait’s music.


  6. I LOVE Tom Waits. I consider him to be one of the best artists of all time. How can you listen to “Green Grass” without feeling something? “I’ll Be Gone”? “Dead and Lovely”? It’s not all good I’ll give you that, but name a band that is?


  7. Wow! Is all I can say. Tom waits is a musical genius /artist. My opinion & others too. Lots people do not like. Called not everyone loving same music obviously. Lots of ignorant statements you shared. ‘Cold cold ground ‘ homeless gravEly voice’ think not long with many others. Though like the above voice mentioned he does it like nobody else can!


  8. I just heard Waits on Letterman and I really didn’t like what I heard. I can only chalk it up to one of those singer/songwriter kind of things where the written music is better than the performance of it.

    However, reading through the rest of article it seems you may have too much time on your hands as you don’t seem to like anyone or anything. There’s times I get like that too but at some point you have to move on. That or take up residence in a box in an alley and scream insults as passers by.


  9. I agree that Tom Waits is crap! I made a bad mistake when changing the channel on to Letterman and saw what I thought was a joke on Dave’s show….I cannot stand that sound and still think he must be a joke…geeze, what is wrong with folks that like this man’s voice and then the stupid way he pretends to have this chalkboard screeching crap come out of his mouth. I would rather listen to rap (which I hope I am dead first) than anything by this man….it’s terrible!


  10. I liked him after hating him. I simply had to listen to it drunk and in a silly mood! It’s his playful style, storytelling, pot and pan bashing, general character and uniqueness that draws me in.

    Next time you’re feeling silly, get a bottle of whisky and sit by a fire, or on a porch and crank up Rain Dogs. If that don’t work then you truly deserve the opinion you have. PS. I can understand how harsh his voice might sound… some kids hate spicy food too – but you do actually end up acquiring a taste for it. Gee it’s hard but it’s got subtle textures unlike say heavy metal vocals.


  11. Kevin should have shared that joint with you. Maybe you would have figured out that reading an article turns into a complete drag when all you are getting out of it is “this guy doesn’t like Tom Waits”. I love Tom Waits and I am open to different opinions but shit I couldn’t finish this article from how repetitive it was.


  12. So you think Fleetwood Mac sucks and you don’t know who Annie Lennox is??? Also saying that you have to listen to something drunk to make it sound good is not a good argument. But yes, he sucks.


  13. The only really disturbing thing here is that someone who professes a dislike for a talented artist saw fit to take time he or she will never get back, to write an article about said talented artist, when he or she could have made yet another trip to WalMart.


  14. Yeah, that was an odious statement. I can’t stand Mr. Waits either but what I truly hate the most are people who spend way too much of their own time on the net bitching about stupid bullshit.


  15. I’m a big fan of Tom Waits and this article was fucking awesome.


  16. Fucking beautiful.


  17. He’s on Austin City Limits right as I’m reading this. Yeah…i dont get it. it was almost like a Saturday Night Live skit. Dong drink the Kool Aid.


  18. He’s on Austin City Limits right as I’m reading this. Yeah…i dont get it. it was almost like a Saturday Night Live skit. Don’t drink the Kool Aid.


  19. I’m watching the same thing and couldn’t take it anymore. Got to like PBS though for airing decent stuff from time to time. Merry Christmas.


  20. literary masturbation. Tom would love this article.


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