Tom Waits is considered by many to be one of Rock and Rolls gods, and yet so many people have never even heard of him. His trademark deep raspy voice doesn’t make it over to the Billboard charts ever and he’s not selling trucks in tv ads. But rest assured, he’s a rock god.
He also had relationships with both Bette Midler and Rickie Lee Jones, who are two of my favorite female singers of all time.
But I digress…
He names a comedy album by the late, great Bill Hicks, who was “like a reverend waving a gun around.” Leonard Cohen “is a poet, an Extra Large one.” Marc Ribot is “a prosthetic Cuban.” The Pogues “play like soldiers on leave… whimsical and blasphemous, seasick and sacrilegious….” Sound like someone you know? It sounds a bit like Tom Waits.
In giving us his list, he gives a double gift—an inspired collection of music rootsy, avant-garde, jazz/blues/Americana, and Other; and a series of mini-essays on the merits of each album, each one a masterful exercise in concision and elliptical wit. See the full list below, and stop by The Guardian to read Waits’ commentary on each album.
1 In the Wee Small Hours by Frank Sinatra
2 Solo Monk by Thelonious Monk
3 Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart
4 Exile On Main Street by the Rolling Stones
5 The Sinking of the Titanic by Gavin Bryers
6 The Basement Tapes by Bob Dylan
7 Lounge Lizards by Lounge Lizards
8 Rum Sodomy and the Lash by the Pogues
9 I’m Your Man by Leonard Cohen
10 The Specialty Sessions by Little Richard
11 Startime by James Brown
12 Bohemian-Moravian Bands by Texas-Czech
13 The Yellow Shark by Frank Zappa
14 Passion for Opera Aria
15 Rant in E Minor by Bill Hicks
16 Prison Songs: Murderous Home Alan Lomax Collection
17 Cubanos Postizos by Marc Ribot
18 Houndog by Houndog
19 Purple Onion by Les Claypool
20 The Delivery Man by Elvis Costello