Bride Of Sea Of Tunes wrote:
I always wonder about who Tom Waits is - when I play an LP of his.
Sometimes I think: he started out on a real peak, and kept his standards high. He had assumed a certain persona in his early 20s, which is not uncommon in artistry. That of a world-weary, regretful, wizened, urban bohemian (pardon me the clumsy expression). As students we loved this type of music so much.
Did he become the real TW he always had wanted to be in 1983? I think he was no 'impersonator' any more - did he stop playing a role?
Obviously I don't have any clear cut answer to all of this.
The answer that Waits gives (and I have no reason to doubt it) is that the sea-change occurs when he met his wife, Kathleen Brennan, on the film, One From the Heart
Tom Waits before Brennan sounds very different from after Brennan. He has said that her musical tastes are much more eccentric than his. He's also said that she gave him the confidence to pursue making exactly the music that he wanted to make.
Whatever the causes, it's clear to me that he found a new and different peak when he was 33-34, which is very atypical. Yes, I like early Tom Waits, but there's no comparison to the stuff after Brennan. You get the feeling that he really took charge: Monk, Mingus, sentimental parlor music from 1890, music from Eastern and Central Europe, gamelan music, talking drums, delta blues, church music from the 1850s, the Weimar Republic. None of these was there before Brennan.