Title: Bone Machine Operator's Manual
Source: audio tape. Transcription as published on Seth Nielsen's Tom Waits Digest
Date: November 30, 1992
Key words: Bone Machine, Creative process, The Earth Died Screaming, Religion, Dirt in the Ground

Record front cover: Photography by Jesse Dylan. Concept by Tom Waits/ Jesse Dylan

Accompanying picture (cover)
CD album front cover, 1992. Photography by Jesse Dylan. Concept by Tom Waits/ Jesse Dylan
CD album back cover, 1992. Photography by Jesse Dylan. Concept by Tom Waits/ Jesse Dylan


Bone Machine Operator's Manual


Intro: "Welcome as the CMJ..."
{"Goin' Out West"}

Well, Bone Machine started out as a, just a title. Let's make something that sounds like it could be part of a group of songs that were entitled Bone Machine. Let's come up with songs that...ya know. Now, I guess the first thing that you'd think of is, maybe, this is like Halloween music or this is...umm...like...What is this?...kind of skeleton music, this is like horror, like music from a horror movie...Is that what it is? Well... Maybe see a little bit. There's a little bit of that in there. Umm. That gets ya thinking about bones, ya start thinking about, Oh God. We have to die and all that. I hate to break it to you...um...that's a little joke there. Umm. So I guess Bone Machine deals sometimes with, also with, not only does it have a particular sound because of Bone Machine, it kind of conjures up an image of, ya know, wood then...Well, I don't know. Different for everybody, but for me kinda like wet leaves in your hair and ya know autumn. I don't know. Anyway, Bone Machine. So it's...some of the songs deal with dying and, ya know, with the fact that we're all hurling through space here and eventually the earth will probably open up and swallow us all...some day real soon.

{"Earth Died Screaming"}

"Earth Died Screaming" is kind of a cyber, a cyber-drama, umm...

And the moon fell from the sky
It rained macarell, it rained trout
And the great day of wrath has come
And here's mud in your big red eye
And the poker's in the fire...locusts take to the sky

Umm...Revelations. It's all in Revelations. It's a heavy chapter. The "Earth Died Screaming" is a warning I guess, It's one of those songs... I haven't written a song like that really before. Like that, what I mean is kind of a, it has a certain, it is a warning... ha... like the end is near. The guys that I used to always love on downtown LA - Fifth and Main - with the briefcase with the speaker in it and the crummy little amplifier in it, going back and forth on a little wire screaming about the end of the world. I used to just stop and listen to those guys. Oh! To keep a crowd on a corner, now that, that is where you cut your teeth as a public speaker, is on a busy corner at like 5:00 on a Friday afternoon, downtown Los Angeles...and you're talking about Jesus. Now...Those were thrilling moments for me. I guess, umm, if you can make somebody wanna stop and listen, you can pretty much tell them anything, at least for the period of time it takes you to tell them, and then they're going to move on. And a record is really like that, songs...some songs you'll sing only once...the day you recorded it and never again. Other songs, you'll sing every night and still not understand it. Umm...Another song you'll have forgotten one verse and can't remember the second verse, and so you had to make up a new one. Songs are...I guess when I was a kid, I thought songs lived in the air. I didn't know anything about songs publishing. I just thought they, one day a song like landed in your backyard like a UFO or something. God, did you hear that song? I still, I still do, I mean even though I know more how...about songs. I still think it's important to look at them that way, and wonder about them. Songs are small. You hold em in your hand, and they're about as big as a bar of soap, really. And, umm, sometimes you only listen to them for maybe that long. As long as it takes to wear down a bar of soap and then move on to something else...another song.

{"Dirt in the Ground"}

"Dirt in the Ground". umm, That Ralph Carney played all the saxes on that. I think he has kind of an Allen Tonian(1) sound he got on that, with the horn section. I just play a very simple piano, um, ya know. I tried to sing in my high, my Prince voice...ha. I can only do that once or twice and then it's gone. If I try to sing like that on the road every night, forget about it. So when you're in the studio, you're taking better care of your voice, umm, you can do things like that. On the road, my throat becomes ravaged by the weather and from just little sleep and bad food. So, and the song is based on something that was a, Teddy Edwards(2) used to say to me all the time. Ya know, we're all going to be dirt in the ground. So hey, he used to tell girls that in hotel lobbies. He'd try to get them to come up to his room. He'd say "Listen darling, we're all gonna be dirt in the ground." So I always thought that would be a good song title.

Outcue: "and music from Bone Machine"

Intro: "We're back..."
{"I Don't Wanna Grow Up"}
{"Murder In The Red Barn"}
{"In The Colosseum"}
Outcue: "...Beware! BEWARE!!"

Intro: "Welcome back to CMJ..."
{"Jesus Gonna Be Here"}
{"That Feel"}
Outcue: "...what I say"

"Next Week" promo

"This Week" promo

"Tonight" promo


(1) Allen Tonian: incorrect transcript/ misspelled?

(2) Teddy Edwards: Tenor jazz saxophonist Teddy Edwards. Waits toured with Edwards in the early '80s (Tour promoting 'Heartattack And Vine'. November 1980 - October 1981) and recorded the "One From the Heart" film score with Edwards in 1992. Waits also resurrected Edwards' career in the early '90s when he hooked up Edwards on the Antilles label and sang two of Edwards' compositions on the album "Mississippi Lad" ("Little Man" and "I'm Not Your Fool Anymore"). Edwards died April 20, 2003 of prostate cancer. He was 78.
- Tom Waits (2003): "I think music is going to miss him as one of the architects of bebop," ... "That tone of his is just unmistakable. He sounded like he was drinking champagne on a train, you know what I mean?" (Source: Los Angeles Times. Apr. 22, 2003)
- Tom Waits (2003): "Teddy Edwards always sounded like he was drinking champagne on a train and wise to the ways of the world. A consummate arranger and composer, Teddy Edwards was one of the original architects of bebop. An elegant man with a large heart and generous spirit, he always carried himself with poise and confidence. Kathleen and I have lost a friend, the world of music has lost one of the most innovative presidents of jazz and we all have the gift of the great music he left behind." (Source: "Teddy Edwards, Tom Waits' longtime Saxophonist has passed away..." By: Rob Partridge at Coalition in London Apr. 24, 2003)