PROMPT: Learn a Tom Waits song.
If you don’t know who Tom Waits is, and you’re a songwriter, you’re in for a treat. This dude has been writing songs since the 1970’s (maybe earlier) and has a huge range of styles and subject matter to delight his listeners. He can be tender and outright frightening. His songs have been covered by everyone who is anyone in the singer/songwriter field.
He’s kind of like Bob Dylan (who also gets covered a lot) because his voice is not exactly what we would call pretty but his songs lend themselves to all kinds of voices. The man just writes wonderful songs–songs that invite anyone to reinvent and play with what’s already, well, a solid piece of music.
For instance, if you’ve watched THE WIRE, you will recognize that each season begins with a different version of Tom Waits’s, “Way Down in the Hole.” High five to the person who complied all the versions into a single Youtube video:
Season 1: Blind Boys of Alabama
Season 2: Tom Waits (himself!)
Season 3: The Neville Brothers
Season 4: DoMaJe
Season 5: Steve Earle
My favorite Tom Waits album is called Mule Variations. I think it’s a good place to start if you’re not too familiar with his music.
SONG OF THE DAY: Chocolate Jesus
This is one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Kim Taylor, covering a great Tom Waits song.