Fun With Pop Culture

Tom Waits Week: The Early Years (1973-1980)

Monday marks Tom Waits’ 60th Birthday. In honor of the man, spunkybean is declaring Tom Waits Week, an honor previously bestowed on only Batman and Harry Potter. Why exactly does a musician with a voice like Jacob Marley’s chains and the lean and hungry look of your finer hobos warrant this treatment? Personally, we feel like the answer is contained within the question, because that sounds pretty awesome.
Now, it’s entirely possible that your iPod isn’t filled to bursting with Tom Waits songs. Perhaps you wonder where you should even begin. The groundbreaking Bone Machine? The raw, rootsy Mule Variations? The early masterpiece Small Change? Well, we’re here to help. Every new album is a surprise, as he shifts genres and techniques without warning. In 1992, he won a Grammy for Best Alternative Album. Two albums later, he won Best Contemporary Folk Album. He’s tough to classify, and the best you can do is to break his career into three general phases. This week, we’ll provide reviews and commentary on all of his albums. Today, we’ll begin with the Early Years.

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