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Music Quote: Tom Waits on Songwriting

Posted by on January 29, 2013


“For a songwriter, you don’t really go to songwriting school; you learn by listening to tunes. 

And you try to understand them and take them apart and see what they’re made of,

and wonder if you can make one, too.”

-Tom Waits 


“He parked across the street laughing, watching it burn. All Halloween orange and chimney red.”

Multi-instrumentalist, poet and artist, Tom Waits is an American treasure. Read my full write-up on the indie troubadour’s best songs, latest news and history this week on Soulful Alternative.

Claiming that he was born in a taxi in his hometown of San Diego, Waits is a master of fabrication. He tells a story of overhearing one of his kids advise the other ones not to let dad help with homework. They said he made up a war once.

His musical style ranges from barroom ballad to edgy rock textures, jazz to blues, romantic to lonely.

Tom Waits writes songs so booze-soaked and gritty he’s been called “God of The Drunk.”

Hip-hop producer RZA said it well. Tom Waits’ voice “has the smoothness of Barry White, but the raspiness of a mountain lion.”

For the latest Tom Waits news and his latest wit and wisdom check out

Tune in to DJ Michele Myers Friday nights at 9pm on KEXP 90.3FM Seattle, Music historian and producer, Michele’s made over 200 radio stories for KEXP Documentaries. She’s also written scripts, lesson plans and features forThe SmithsonianExperience Music Projectthe University of Washington and NPR.

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