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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tom Waits No Longer To Be Inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Posted By on Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 8:40 AM

Instagram username TomWaitsForNoMan
  • Instagram username TomWaitsForNoMan

(Wait, is that headline confusing? "No longer" modifies the verb "waits," not the compound adjective "to be inducted." Sorry if that seemed sensationalistic. But while we're on the subject of names that parse as verbs, consider the difficulty of writing a snappy headline about Ken Burns committing arson, Britney Spears fishing with a pointy stick, or Don Was doing pretty much anything.)

Yesterday was not only Pi Day -- delicious Pi Day -- but also the day the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted its 26th set of high achievers in the field of rocking out. Among the eight 2011 laureates, alongside Alice Cooper and Neil Diamond, was Bay Area resident Boho and raspy-voiced all-around strange person Tom Waits. "It isn't his propensity to dredge the bottom of society that makes Waits an icon," we wrote in 2005: "it's his ability to inject life, wit, passion into his tales of down-and-outers that distinguishes him from all the contenders and pretenders."

Waits, who was born in Pomona but lives in Sebastopol, has been peddling his deeply idiosyncratic urban sea chanteys for almost 40 years now. Along the way he's enjoyed his fair share of critical acclaim, plenty of leeway to pursue high-concept projects, a little taste of a Hollywood career (from Down By Law to Mystery Men), and even a modest amount of controversy (like the time he sued Frito-Lay). He's also become the voice of portent to a whole new generation, thanks to the theme music for season two of The Wire. But he's always seemed like a pretty modest, affable dude, though "normal" might be pushing it.

In the spirit of congratulations, here are a few of his barroom classics from over the years.

"I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You" from Closing Time (1973)

"Downtown Train" from Rain Dogs (1985)

"Goin' Out West" from Bone Machine (1992)

"Dead and Lovely" from Real Gone (2004)

Rare B-side (date unknown)


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