Why Tom Waits Is So Damn Good

I’m a die-hard Tom Waits fan.

His music talks about the side of America that both liberals and conservatives like to ignore. Waits goes into graphic detail in every song about the people who have to live in the world that capitalists make for us.

Let me be explicit here, I am not arguing that Tom Waits is a comrade. The man is so cagey and walks around with such a mysterious air to him that it would be idiotic to try to box him into any political ideology, though I’m pretty sure I will never have to worry about him pulling a Morrisey or an Eric Clapton.

But I do think Tom Wait’s using his music to talk about the “underbelly of society,” as many critics put it, is important because it puts a human face on people who capitalists love to dehumanize.

Capitalists of both liberal and conservative calibers love to disparage the addicts, the sex workers, and the just plain different people in our world, but Tom Waits humanizes them by telling their story.

And clearly it is a story that resonates, even though it creates a cult following for Tom rather than a main stream one you still see Waits selling out shows and records across the globe. You still hear is music in great movies and you still see him acting in films for the likes of Jarmusch and Coppalla.

Another great Tom Waits fact, he doesn’t endorse products. He did one dog food commercial in the 80s and he has never done another commercial since because he hated what it felt like to sell out. Multiple companies try to use Wait’s songs in their commercials, Waits has refused them every time.

I’d rather have a hot lead enema. I hate it. I saw a commercial for toilet paper, and they were using “Let the Good Times Roll,” you know? It’s like, `Man, don’t do that.’

Tom Waits on the use of his music in advertising

If you are a leftist like me and think the working class need more representation in music besides Dolly Parton’s 9-5 and Pete Seeger, then I think Tom Waits should be as canon to socialist tastes as the former.

A weird post, I know, but goddamnit, Tom Waits is the man and anyone who says otherwise has clearly never seen the real side of America.

The real America is not all suburbs and Chipotle’s. The real America is a place of sex work, drug and alcohol fueled deviance, and unwashed abuse survivors living in tent cities. They exist in the millions, and thank god we have found a voice for them in Tom Waits!

Published by James J Jackson

I'm a poet from California.

%d bloggers like this: