Title: Bitin' The Green Shiboda With Tom Waits
Source: Down Beat magazine (USA), by Marv Hohman. Photography by Herb Nolan. Thanks to Kevin Molony and Ken Langford for donating scans
Date: Victoria restaurant/ Chicago. June 17, 1976
Keywords: Nighthawks At The Diner, Frank Zappa, Stage persona, Grove Press, Musical influences, Slang terminology, Blues Haikus, The Systems

Magazine front cover. Down Beat magazine. June 17, 1976

Accompanying pictures
Page lay out (first page of article). Victoria restaurant, Chicago. Early 1976. Photography by Herb Nolan. Thanks to Kevin Molony for donating this scan
Source: Jazz & Blues Photography by Herb Nolan. Date: Victoria restaurant, Chicago. Early 1976. Credits: photography by Herb Nolan. Kind permission Herb Nolan
Herb Nolan photo proofsheets for Victoria restaurant session. Kind permission Herb Nolan
Herb Nolan photo proofsheets for Victoria restaurant session. Kind permission Herb Nolan


Bitin' The Green Shiboda With Tom Waits

"I think you'll probably never go broke underestimating the collective taste and attention span of the American public."

He looks as if he might have stumbled on stage by accident, this refugee from some chump change cafe, decked out in tattered sportcoat and weatherbeaten tweed cap. His white shirt soiled by who knows how many gas-forming bowls of chili. He barely glances up at the audience before launching into a torrid fingersnapping motion. When he tugs the ever-present cigarette from his mouth and starts to deliver the first monologue of the evening, he sounds every bit as deadly as he looks, his menacing rasp testifying to tales of chugged six packs and chain-consumed cartons.

Raconteur extraordinaire, poet laureate of the luncheonette, stripshow aficionade, voyeur of the great American downbeaten - all these terms serve to describe the 25-year-old songwriter, vocalist, sometime keyboardist, and yarnspinner known as Tom Waits. Jive talkin', speed rappin', equipped with an encyclopedic hunk of poetic street slang culled from panoramic flirtation with the cavalacade of Great American Losers, Waits glories in the seamy world of after hours bars, all night cafes, rundown bus terminals, seedy tattoo parlors. Name the place you'd least like to spend the next week and chances are Waits not only knows about it, but he plans too immortalize it in some still half-formed monologue of the future.

Rhythm is his forte, the manic finger-snapping serving as the backdrop to an incessant collage of fantastic characters and bizarre events. It's not an easy brand of music to peg; it owes more to the era of beatnik jazz than it does to rock, with a healthy dose of Tin Pan Alley more than occasionally making its presence felt. The songs never come across the same way twice, as Tom's rambling palaver mutates the arrangements as well as the general aura surrounding them. One night, Semi-Suite emerges as the sentimental lament of a truck drivin' widow. On the next, it will somehow be invested with an air of humor and whimsicality. The Heart Of Saturday Night can amaze with the sheer power of its imagery one night, and come in the next on the back of an uproarious monologue detailing the weekend antics of a group of dragstrip rowdies.

New images and occurrences are constantly popping up in the songs, phrases Waits hews from the conversations he is eavesdroppingly addicted to - the cliche-ridden, daily-burdened, color-frocked jargon of the working class, a language that runs the garmut of human emotion, lauding the mundane at the expense of the maudlin.

Waits first appeared on the recording scene back in 1973, via a debut album called Closing Time. Although few copies of the disc were sold, somebody was evidently listening. The album's opening cut was Ol' 55, a song dedicated to a steel Pegasus, well-worn but sturdy, and its highway adventures, Subsequently recorded by Ian Mathews and the Eagles, the tune has already achieved mini-standard status. Other Closing Time goodies such as Rosie and Midnight Lullaby marked Waits as a composer of promise, one who dared to fuse coherent lyrics with inventive melody.

As encouraging as this debut was, it failed to hint at the astonishing accomplishment that emerged the follow-up, The Heart Of Saturday Night. Each of the 11 cuts is a small gem, Tom's musical maturity having been perfectly wedded with his private vision of Americana, circa 1970. Many of the songs sounded strangely out of place (much in the sense that the best Randy Newman material does), the tunes evidencing distinct ancestral connections, canvassing the spectrum of American popdom throughout the last century.

New Coat Of Paint and Depot, Depot both possess a light-hearted camaraderie, a bluesiness that genuflects back toward a simpler. less high-strung era. Drunk On The Moonand Fumblin' With The Blues conjure up the image of a citified Hank Williams, a late-night loup garou aimlessly cruising the porno book stores and raunch-laden swap shops. Semi-Suite and Please Call Me Baby show Waits's compassionate side, the latter featuring one of the more poignant phrases in recent lyricdom: "If I exorcise my devils/ my angels may leave too," Diamonds On My Windshield hints at what was to come on the third Waits album, Nighthawks At The Diner, Accompanied only by throbbing bass and drums, Tom delivers an amphetaminic rap that conveys the feel of flying down an interstate during a driving rainstorm. metal-encased jockeys vying for the express lanes, the wind howling like a banshee. A modern day Hellhound On My Trail, if you will.

It is the adventurous, speed-spoken Windshield cut that prepares the listener for the radical experience of Nighthawks. A double album recorded "live" in July of last year. Waits broke new artistic ground on the outing, eliminating the restrictions heretofore imposed on him by studio recording. The entire set pulsates with urban verve. Waits skillfully stitching songs like Better Off Without A WifeEggs And Sausage, and Big Joe And Phantom 309 together with convoluted and many-faceted monologues that are themselves small works of art.

The following conversation took place on a blustery and bleak Chicago day, in the shadow of an overhanging elevated train platform and a world-famous tattoo parlor, and over interminable cups of coffee in a dingy round the clock cafe. Obviously, Tom found these surroundings to his liking.

Hohman: Let's start off by talking about Nighthawks At The Diner. Your previous two albums didn't really capture the ambience of your stage act. Nighthawks was a giant step forward in that it seemed to portray the real, live, onstage Tom Waits.
Waits: Yeah, I'm proud of it. Pete Christlieb played tenor sax on it, he's with the NBC Doc Severinsen orchestra. He also drives the Ontario Motor Speedway: he just plays with Severinsen as more or less as a sideline. Jim Hughart, the bassist, he's got a pedigree all his own. He does studio work in Los Angeles, he's done a lot of road work with Ella Fitzgerald. Bill Goodwin is on drums. He lives in Pocono, Pennsylvania, so he flew out for the date. I'd seen him before with Mose Allison in New York. Hughart lives in L.A. so does Mike Melvoin (the keyboardist on the album) and Christlieb. I was just trying to find a band that could naturally play what I wanted and not have to teach or tell 'em what to do. I wanted them to stretch out on their own.

Hohman: The first time I saw you perform was back in St. Louis a few years ago, when you were playing Kiel Auditorium as a solo warm-up act for Zappa and the Mothers. Not only were you swamped by the sheer immensity of the hall, with your vocals almost totally inaudible, but the crowd was obviously a rock-oriented set. They were far from being into a lone guy up there singing tales of broken down autos and barroom troubles. That was a bad scene.
Waits: Aw, man . the worst. I bit the green shiboda on that tour with Frank. That wasn't even the worst night, though: if I remember correctly, St. Louis was a snap. I had some real bitches on that tour. We played a lot in the South and ended up on Mothers' Day at midnite in the Philharmonic Hall in New York. That tour was my own decision, though. I wasn't doing anything at the time and Frank's original opening act had quit. So he was stuck and I volunteered my services. It was like mercy killing, you know - an experience that turned into a real catastrophe. The cats in his band were easy to get along with, it wasn't their fault. Tom Fowler was in Frank's band at the time, Bruce Fowler on trombone, Napoleon Murphy Brock, George Duke, Ruth Underwood. I went out every evening and proceeded to ruin my evening, and the audience's too, I guess.

Hohman: Your songs all seem to have a rootless, wandering spirit to them. Where are you from?
Waits: I grew up in Whittier, California, lived in Hollywood, went to high school in San Diego, moved back to L.A. after high school. I've been on the road doing clubs for about four years now.

Hohman: Did you start out working in a combo, or were you a solo act right from the beginning?
Waits: I did a few rock things; I was in a group called the Systems(1), I was rhythm guitar and lead vocalist. We did Link Wray stuff.

Hohman: Link Wray - that's the guy who made all those killer rock instrumentals back in the late '50s, Rumble, Rawhide, Comanche, The Swag.
Waits: Yeah, Rumble was his first hit. I've been trying to pin down Frank Zappa's guitar style for a long time and I think Link Wray is the closest I can get. I think Frank is trying to be Link Wray. We did stuff by the Ventures, too, a lot of instrumentals. I finally quit that band; we had a drummer with a harelip and a lead guitar player with a homemade guitar. Actually, there were only three of us, so in a sense we were sort of like pioneers.

Hohman: An early power trio, huh?
Waits: Yeah, that's it. Anyway, then I started writing my own stuff, and that meant going out and getting a lot of different kinds of jobs.

Hohman: What kind of jobs do you mean, music or otherwise? Your songs mention a slew of gigs, everything from pumping gas to flopping pizzas.
Waits: I had a lot of jobs. I worked as a cook and dishwasher and waiter(2) and janitor. I worked in a jewelry store, a hardware sore, a cleaners. I drove a delivery truck, and ice cream truck, a cab for awhile....

Hohman: Did you ever have any formal musical training?
Waits: No, nothin', I never had any real academic stuff, which I think becomes sort of obvious when you notice my pedestrian style.

Hohman: There's an entire persona to your stage act that must cause some people to wonder whether you're really for real, whether you are the same guy offstage as on. Are you really you?
Waits: Well, the last time I checked I was. You see, there has to be a certain amount of exaggeration in order for a performance to be educational as well as entertaining. I mean I don't normally wear bermuda shorts and white socks and wingtips and read Kahlil Gibran, you know. I'm the closest thing to myself that I know. Does that make any sense?

Hohman: That's surprising; I had you pegged for a Prophet freak. If you don't read Gibran, what are some of the things you do read? What literary influences have affected your style?
Waits: Oh, you know, I read a little, not passionately or nothing. I like John D. McDonald, Damon Runyon, Carson McCullers, I like Charles Bukowski, Hubert Selby, Jr., John Rechy.

Hohman: All the Grove Press gang?
Waits: Yeah, I like all those guys. I like Gregory Corso and Ed Sanders and Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, Larry McMurtry some of the time.

Hohman: How about Richard Brautigan?
Waits: No, no thank you, uh-uh

Hohman: When you look at the inside jacket of Nighthawks and see the amount of lyrics and monologues, it's almost overwhelming. How do you get all of your stuff down pat - the rapid-fire delivery, the rhythmic sense, the one-liners....
Waits: I don't just sit down at a typewriter and write. I pick up stuff from conversations in bars and cafes and cabs and clubs. The monologue generally comes out of stuff I experiment with onstage.

Hohman: Some guy sitting in front of me during your set the other night said, "Where does he get all those one-liners?" It seems to me I've heard some of them before, yet others seem like they might be your own.
Waits: Yeah, I steal a lot of them from somebody else. There are a lot of tired, old one-liners hangin' around that aren't being used, it all depends on whether you can make 'em palatable for what you're performing and who you're performing for. I like to get a chortle or two from the crowd on occasion....

Hohman: Do you think you'll always rely on the same sources for inspiration? Can you keep hanging around greasy spoons and Greyhound terminals and turning what you see and hear into fresh, vital material?
Waits: What you essentially do is just look around you, take the raw material and forge it into something meaningful. It's as much the way you deal with what you're dealing with as what you choose to write about. Nighthawks was a result of spending eight months on the road; it's just a lot of travelogues strung together. When you're on the road doing clubs, it's hard to stay out of the bars in the afternoons. You got time to kill before the show. Then you hang around the club all night and you're up till dawn, so you hang around coffee shops. It stops being somethin' you do - it becomes somethin' you are.

Hohman: Ken Nordine made a series of recordings in the late '50s, something called Word Jazz. Are you acquainted with it?
Waits: Oh yeah, I used to listen to that. I was listening to Lord Buckley and Lenny Bruce too.

Hohman: You obviously didn't hear those guys on the radio. What did you listen to when you were growing up?
Waits: It was mostly the hit parade, that kind of stuff. There are a lot of composers I like: George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, bless his soul, Cole Porter.

Hohman: That stamps you as somewhat of a throwback these days, more than a little out of sync with the mainstream of the American music scene.
Waits: Well, I do like some of the current people. I like Martin Mull, Randy Newman(3).

Hohman: That's one element that sets you apart from the majority of contemporary music. Both you and Newman write songs, tunes with readily comprehensible lyric, and a discernible and ofttimes hummable melody. Certain songs of yours, especially New Coat Of Paint and Drunk On The Moon, somehow remind me of Hoagy Carmichael, and in a strange way, Hank Williams, and a lot of other '30's and 40's composers as well.
Waits: Another composer I like is Bob Dorough. He wrote Baltimore Oriole back in the '50s; nowadays he writes mostly for kid shows. The first time I got hip to him was on an album called Poetry And Jazz, John Carradine was on it reading some Dylan Thomas stuff. Dorough did a Ferlinghetti poem, something called A Dog, I think.

Hohman: Speaking of contemporary songwriters, one of last year's more depressing events was the unexpected death of Tim Buckley. In many ways, both of you guys work with the same subject matter.
Waits: Yeah, that was a real shock. Yeah, old Tim - I think you'll probably never go broke underestimating the collective taste and attention span of the American public(4). When it comes down to the hit parade, things are so tightassed and exclusive that the stuff people have to base their own musical frame of reference on is limited, all except for the people that are curious enough to go out and do their own research. If all you do is listen to the hit parade, man.

Hohman: That's one thing about Nighthawks, I can't imagine how the record guys can ever pull a three-minute single out of that album.
Waits: Myself, I like Eggs And Sausage and Spare Parts, I'd like to hear those as singles.

Hohman: I notice you're always carrying a small notebook around with you.
Waits: Yeah, I'm constantly jottin' things down. I keep the notebook in my pocket. That's why I'm so anxious to get home after a few months on the road, I just dump out all my suitcase full of things I've written. I take down people's conversations in cafes, then I make music over the notes....

Hohman: You can write your own music then. Where did you learn to do it?
Waits: I taught myself, primarily so that I could understand what I was trying to do technically on the piano. Usually you write within a framework, however limited you are, then that's as far as you'll go. Instead of learning theory and then learning how to play the piano, I learned theory through writing.

Hohman: You pick out your melody on piano rather than guitar?
Waits: Yeah, I don't play much on guitar. Piano's my main instrument.

Hohman: Your voice seems to have grown steadily coarser over the progression of the last three years.
Waits: Yeah, that's due to a certain amount of self-abuse, I guess... the beer, the greasy spoons, Old Gold filters....

Hohman: Where do you live in L.A.?
Waits: I live in a little apartment in Silver Lake. It's almost to downtown L.A., a Mexican-Oriental neighborhood. I hang out in the Food House and the Casino Club, the Mohawk. I play a lot of craps. In fact there's this club in D.C. where I did a week. After the place closed up one night, all the waiters, the bartenders, and the manager, we all hit this place down the corner and threw craps until dawn. I made a little more than chump change and somehow one cat had turned on the tape and got the whole thing down, taped a real serious crap game, the yelling, everything. That gave me an idea for something to do on an album, I'm going to take a trio in the studio and set 'em up in the corner, hunker down and roll craps and tape the whole thing.

Hohman: let's go back to Nighthawks again. How long did it take to record?(5)
Waits: Two nights. I spent two weeks rehearsing for it. It was done like a club date, nonstop. We invited 200 people and had booze, tables, chairs. A stripper named Dewanna opened the show. The band played The Pink Panther and Night Train.

Hohman: How much of your audience do you think is hip to all the slang terminology you use? It seems you've made an exhaustive study of American pop culture, especially the underside of it. There are terms I know that I'm sure most people don't, things like Thunderbird, Stacy Adams, names like Texas Guinan....
Waits: Yeah. Kerouac made a record back in '59 on Hanover Records(6) with Steve Allen and he talked about her. Her famous line was, "Hello sucker." I use stuff that's an integral part of an American conversation, things we don't even realize until they're broken down. Like restaurant calls, you know, like "Adam and Eve on a log and sink 'em," : shit on a shingle," "eggs blindfolded," "eggs overwhelming," "chicken catastrophe."

Hohman: What do you have planned for the next album?
Waits: It's gonna be called Pasties And A G String and it'll dig deeper, even farther into the bowels of I don't know. We got ideas... but it's hard to really talk about it until I get home and work with the concept.

Hohman: What would have happened to your head if Nighthawks would have started selling fantastically, like Springsteen's Born To Run? Would your outlook have been altered?
Waits: I don't know, man. I can't make no predictions on anything like that, no. I think I'm my own handicap. So I don't know. I never really expected that to happen.

HohmanNighthawks did make it to 166 with a bullet on the Billboard charts, I think, that ought to be good enough to keep it out of the cutout racks for awhile.
Waits: Yeah, the bargain bin.... That's where I might find an album I been trying to get my hands on, it's called Blues Haikus, by Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. Al Cohn used to play strip joints with Lord Buckley. He's an amazing player.

Hohman: Do you think you could ever be really comfortable with anything other than the California life style?
Waits: It's okay, I grew up there, so at least I'm familiar with it.

Hohman: California has often been tagged the home of American crackpot culture, what with the various religious and social phenomena that dot the landscape. That's one thing - though you shoot lots of barbs at the various aspects of America, you seldom make reference to religion.
Waits: What're you talkin' about, religious sects or religious sex?

Hohman: I mean the guru stuff.
Waits: Well, I do consult my guru before I do an interview.

Hohman: Who's that, Herb Cohen or Joe Smith?
Waits: "I don't know who the guy in the robe with the towel on his head is, but that guy next to him is Joe Smith," That's the punchline to an old story, one that's so old that I think it might even be a Damon Runyon story. Hey, did you ever read that Kerouac novel - it's out in Grove - called Pic? It was written about '56, published after he died, it was written like a Mark Twain story, all in phonetic black jargon.

Hohman: What about Mexico City Blues? Do you know that?
Waits: Yeah, Kerouac had Charlie Parker in there, The Wheel Of The Quivering Meat Conception, a lot of real strange ones. I liked that a lot.

Hohman: Have you ever seen any of Lou Reed's poetry? Some of it is very fine, a lot better than the stuff he has put to music.
Waits: No, I haven't. Real good, huh? What do you think of Patti Smith? Her band buries her, on record and on stage, too. She's a merchandisable commodity and she's being marketed as a poet and it just seems that under those circumstances that she should be a lot more concerned about her storytelling and the way she comes across lyrically. A lot of it is just lost.

Hohman: What do you think about that whole genre in music, the deco-rock brigade; Patti Smith, Reed, the Blue Oyster Cult, the Tubes?
Waits: Well, you know, cosmic debris....

Hohman: Do you know who Frank Zappa wrote that song about?
Waits: Yeah, well, I think it was about this little 15-year old boy wonder from Denver, the little perfect master. He's got a Mercedes and a Maserati and lives in a castle. He's been 15 for about ten years now.

Hohman: I haven't seen you in front of a hostile audience, not since that fiasco with Zappa. Do you get heckled much nowadays? What's the worst club scene you've ever had?
Waits: Heckling, hell, that happens all the time. It's usually affectionate hostility, you know, somebody who really likes what I'm doing wants to be a part of it, wants to ask me something or yell something at me.

Hohman: As far as pianists go, who do you listen to and admire?
Waits: I like al Red Tyler, Huey Piano Smith, all of Art Tatum, Professor Longhair. I like Mose Allison a lot; we did a Soundstage show together a while back(7). What's Thelonious Monk doing now? The best thing he had out was called The Man I Love. The last time I saw him in San Diego, his son was playing drums. I certainly admire him. I love his private solo version of 'Round Midnight, the way it drags and pulls at your heartstrings. Al Cohn and Steve Gilmore played that one night in a storeroom of some club in New York, it just killed me, man. It's such a low, moanin' lonesome, real tragic style. As far as other musicians go, I like Charles Mingus, Tampa Red, Bo Carter, Memphis Minnie... I saw Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra at the Spectrum in Philadelpia a while back, Ella was amazing. That's the worst place to hear anything, but it's a great place for hockey.

Hohman: One more thing, Tom. Let's say you're putting together an anti-Michelin Guide to cheap diners. How would you decide whether or not a greasy spoon is a five star joint?
Waits: Anyplace I can come out of with enough gas to open a Mobil station is alright by me.

Right before this article was scheduled to be sent off to the printer, Tom swung back into Chicago with his new trio, a group feauturing Frank Vicari (formerly of Maynard Ferguson and Woody Herman's bands) on tenor sax, Dr. Fitzgerald Hunnington Jenkins III on upright bass, and Chip White on drums. Tom explained that he had been performing with the trio for a while, and that even though it was costing him money every night they stayed together, he had already lined up a European tour for midsummer, the highlight of which would be a two-week stopover at Ronnie Scott's in London.

The addition of the trio has finally allowed Waits the freedom to really stretch out on stage, lending an added dimension to his already powerful ramble. He sat down to the keyboards for a brief New Coat Of Paint, unveiled the title song of the upcoming Pasties And A G String album, dekivered slambang Depot Depot, and kept the overflow audience in the palm of his grubby hand throughout.

Waits is indefinite as to how long the present trio will stay with him. Although he claims that he and his sidemen are "thick as thieves," financial worries may dictate the future course of Tom's ensemble plans. Irregardless, Waits is on his way to europe, in his first attempt to see whether he can communicate his individual vision of America to music buffs on the other side. Odds are that he will succeed. For Waits defies classification, remaining a true original in a world of exploding imitations. He is one performer you can't afford to miss.


(1) The Systems:
- Tom Waits (1973): "I played in a band in junior high called The Systems... I played rhythm guitar and sang. I listened to a lot of black artists, quite a few black artists. I had a real interest in that - James Brown and the Flames were real big, I went to O'Farrell Junior High School, all black junior high school, and I went out to Balboa(?) and saw James Brown - he knocked me out, man, when I was in 7th grade. So I've kept up on that scene too and I listen to as many different kinds of music as I can." (Source: "Folkscene 1973, with Howard and Roz Larman" (KPFK-FM 90.7). Date: Los Angeles/ USA. August 12, 1973)
- Dan Forte (1977): "Around this same time Waits formed his first group, soulfully named The Systems. "I played rhythm guitar and sang," he comments. "Rhythm and blues - a lot of black Hit Parade stuff, white kids trying to get that Motown sound. I went to an all-black junior high and was under certain social pressure. So I listened to what was around me." Tom dropped out of high school during his junior year, because he was already working by that time - not as a musician, but as a cook. Several years on the graveyard shift at an all-night diner in San Diego, besides providing him with what would become fuel for subsequent songs and stories, convinced him that there had to be a better medium through which to channel his energies and words. As he told the Los Angeles Times, "I knew when I was working there I was going to do something with it. I didn't know how, but I felt it every night." (Source: "Tom Waits - Offbeat Poet And Pianist". Contemporary Keyboard magazine, by Dan Forte. April, 1977)
- Tom Waits (2002): "Heck I don't know if it was a soul band. It was surf and soul. I played guitar and sang. In those days, you didn't play a lot of gigs. You'd play a dance every now and then. I knew I wanted to do something with music, but navigating that seems almost impossible. It's like digging through a wall with a spoon, and your only hope is that what's on the other side is digging with the same intensity towards you... The band was called the Systems. Up until that point, you know, I played the ukulele when I was a kid and I played a guitar - my dad gave me a guitar. There was always music in the house. Frank Sinatra, Harry Belafonte and Louis Armstrong and Mexican radio." (Source: "Tom Waits". SOMA magazine. July, 2002 by Mikel Jollett)

(2) Dishwasher and waiter: Further reading Napoleone Pizza House

(3) I like Martin Mull, Randy Newman:
Randy Newman:
- Tom Waits (1974): "There are songwriters that I like that aren't so well liked - it's still a matter of what your own taste is but I do think there's a strong difference between someone like Randy Newman who is certainly a craftsman when it comes to putting a song together, someone who can evoke such a feeling from his listeners and it comes from him really sweating over a song and then you take somebody like - I don't want to slander anybody, we're on the air- but take somebody like [mumbles] who really writes ridiculously childish songs that don't have meat to them or real vision - I think it's certainly craft." (Source: "Folkscene 1974", with Howard and Roz Larman (KPFK-FM 90.7). Date: Los Angeles/ USA. July 23, 1974 (June 10?))
- Tom Waits (1975): "I admire Johnny Mercer, Oscar Hammerstein and George Gershwin - Cole Porter, Randy Newman - I don't know, I just don't listen to that much country music anymore. I don't write much of it anymore." (Source: "Folkscene 1975", with Howard and Roz Larman (KPFK-FM 90.7). Date: Los Angeles/ USA. January 12 (February 13?), 1975)
- Tom Waits (1975): "I listen to Rudy Ray Moore, Oscar Brown Jr, Ken Nordine, Lord Buckley, Jack Kerouac who I've just been fortunate enough to obtain 4 albums from - from the 50's, he made an album on Hanover Records with Steve Allen in New York City in 57 that did an instant nose dive except among his enthusiastic constituents that bought the record - it was essentially Steve Allen playing jazz behind Kerouac and Kerouac was just telling stories. I like Randy Newman a great deal, I like London Wainwright." (Source: "WAMU Radio Interview". Date: Washington, DC. April 18, 1975)
- Marv Hohman (1976): "You obviously didn't hear those guys on the radio. What did you listen to when you were growing up? Waits: It was mostly the hit parade, that kind of stuff. There are a lot of composers I like: George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, bless his soul, Cole Porter. Hohman: That stamps you as somewhat of a throwback these days, more than a little out of sync with the mainstream of the American music scene. Waits: Well, I do like some of the current people. I like Martin Mull, Randy Newman." (Source: "Bitin' The Green Shiboda With Tom Waits", Down Beat magazine (USA), by Marv Hohman. Date: Victoria restaurant/ Chicago. June 17, 1976)
- Barney Hoskyns (1999): "Was Randy Newman an influence?" Tom Waits: "Yeah, because he was always like a Brill Building(11) guy. He was part of that whole tradition: you go siddown in a room and you write songs all day. Then you get these runners and you get the songs out to Ray Charles or Dusty Springfield. I mean, that's what Joni Mitchell was doing too, she was sitting in a room writing songs, it was just the perception of yourself as a songwriter was changing. And I caught that wave, the songwriters garnering understanding and sympathy and encouragement." (Source: "Mojo Interview With Tom Waits" Mojo magazine (USA), by Barney Hoskyns. Date: Santa Rosa. April, 1999)
- Tom Waits (2000): "I love Los Lobos. Those guys out of Denver, 16 Horsepower. What about Sparklehorse? He's great. Lou Ann Barton, she's got a great voice ... [Captain] Beefheart, of course. Elvis Costello. He's a renaissance man, he's multidimensional. His song "Baby Plays Around" I thought would be a good song for Little Jimmy Scott, who is someone else I really admire a lot. Howlin' Wolf, of course. The 3M Corporation - Monk, Miles and Mingus. Roland Kirk is up there really high. Sun Ra, Cryin' Sam Collins, James Harman, Tina Turner, Aretha, Daniel Johnston. And I like anybody with "little" in their name. Little Jimmy Scott and, uh ... Little Charlie & The Nightcats ... all the Littles, and I like all the Bigs ... Big Mama Thornton, Big Joe Turner Big Bill Broonzy, Little Anthony & The Imperials, Little Richard ... Zappa, Nick Cave and, of course, The Rolling Stones, can't leave them out. Bill Hicks, Johnny Cash, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Guy Clark, Randy Newman. And Harry Belafonte." (Source: "Tradition With a Twist" Blues Revue magazine No. 59 (USA). July/August, 2000 by Bret Kofford)
Martin Mull:
Martin Mull and Tom Waits were close friends with a compatible sense of humor. Both were musicians doing little comedic bits in between songs. Waits appeared on the 1977 Martin Mull album: "I'm everyone I've ever loved "(ABC/MCA AB-997). Mull's first break in television was on "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," which he describes as the "Roseanne of the 70s." Since then he has also done over two dozen feature films. Mull was a teaching fellow and has a Master's degree in art and has since stayed in touch with the medium both through painting or drawing. Check out this site for some artwork by Mull. For more information on Martin Mull, please check out this excellent: Unofficial Martin Mull Homepage
- Waits did a spoken word piece with Mull ("Martin Goes And Does Where It's At" from "I'm Everyone I Ever Loved": ABC/MCA AB-997, Martin Mull, 1977) and Waits guested on Fernwood2Night and America2Night, both hosted by Martin Mull.

(4) You'll never go broke underestimating the taste of the American public: Also mentioned in: "Holding On: A Conversation With Tom Waits", Newsweek, by Karin Schoemer. Jerry's/ Monte Rio. April 23, 1999. "Lenny Bruce said you'll never go broke underestimating the taste of the American public. People have built fortunes on it!"

(5) How long did it take to record?: Further reading: Nighthawks At The Diner

(6) A record back in '59 on Hanover Records: "Poetry for the Beat Generation - Jack Kerouac and Steve Allen". Hanover Records HML 5000 [1959]. Fourteen poems read by the author to original piano accompaniment by Steve Allen. Side 1: October in the Railroad Earth; Deadbelly; Charlie Parker; The Sounds of the Universe Coming in My Window; One Mother. Side 2: Goofing at the Table; Bowery Blues; Abraham; Dave Brubeck; If I had a Slouch Hat Too one Time; The Wheel of Quivering Meat Conception; McDougal Street Blues; The Moon Her Majesty; I'd Rather Be Thin Than Famous. The second of Kerouac's recordings for general distribution. 33 1/3 rpm, 12" mono LP, with music by Steve Allen and poetry by Kerouac. Kerouac and Allen had met at the Village Vanguard at a poetry reading Kerouac was giving, and Allen sat in with him for the second show. After the show, they decided to collaborate on this album, which they produced in one take. Dot Records, which was to have released it, got cold feet at the last minute, after they had already sent out the review copies; it was issued by Hanover with liner notes describing the controversy over its release and also describing the genesis of the album. Gilbert Millstein, who had reviewed On the Road for the New York Times in 1957, wrote the liner notes.

(7) We did a Soundstage show together a while back: TV concert appearance for "Soundstage", Chicago. PBS television show on Tom Waits and Mose Allison. Chicago/ USA (aired December 22, 1975, recorded November 3, 1975 or earlier).