BREAKING: Tom Waits For No Man, Except Maybe David Dye

waits1.jpg“File our stay under ?Accidental Tourism,? a random touchstone to Waits? boozy, flophouse residency at Tropicana Motel in the endless, doomed summer of Los Angeles in the ?70s. It was a simpler time then. A piano served as furniture, and down the hall lived Waits? partner in grime, Chuck E. Weiss, ?the kind of guy that would sell you a rat?s ass for a wedding ring,? joked Waits to an interviewer at the time. Weiss brought around Rickie Lee Jones, with whom Waits shared a brief creative and romantic dalliance. It was at the Tropicana that Waits forged the image that would stick with him through the years: a rumpled, bourbon-fed balladeer, holding up a drunk piano, eyes-closed, 80-proof chords dancing the tarantella with his bullfrog croak of a voice, pirouetting in the halo of smoke and stubble ringing the low-slung, tweed dude cap. Between regular tours opening for acts like Frank Zappa and the Rolling Stones, Waits would record the seven albums that would mark his early incarnation as a crushed romantic huffing the last remaining fumes of the Beat and jazz eras. on albums like The Heart Of Saturday Night, Small Change and Nighthawks At The Diner, Waits hung his weary, gonna-drink-the-lights-out persona on a dancing skeleton of upright bass and plaintive piano chords. It was a Tin Pan Alley full of hoboes and drifters, dancing girls and desperate characters, barroom wit and gutter poetry. Waits was the guy playing piano in the corner of the coffee shop in Edward Hopper?s painting Nighthawks. Unfortunately, it’s the corner that you can’t see.”

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