Title: The Death Of Streetlife In America
Source: The Planet radio show (USA) by Norman Davis. Late 1977 Transcription from tape by "Pieter from Holland" as published on the Tom Waits Library
Date: aired late 1977
Key words: American streetlife, Foreign Affairs

Picture: Norman Davis (date unknown)


The Death Of Streetlife In America


TW: ... and then you go to a late night cafe and the only people in there are cops and murderers, y'know?

ND: Singer-songwriter Tom Waits... "The Death Of Streetlife In America."


ND: The Planet welcomes Tom Waits, the extraordinary young Los Angeles singer-songwriter whose 5 albums on Asylum Records mix blues and jazz in a continuing inspection of contemporary streetlife. Waits' Bowery bum image punctuates his stream of consciousness [...?...] tour of America's seamy side streets. His newest album is called Foreign Affairs, and his following continues to grow. Tom Waits is worried that the slice of life his music depicts is dying out. And he talks about society's attempt to squash streetlife.

(A Sight For Sore Eyes)

TW: Well, they're trying to keep people of the streets basically. With all these police programs on the air now? And the image they are trying to create is that it not save to walk the streets. That's what they've done with this movie "The Good Bar" or "Looking For Some Good Bar." You know, it would be frightening. As a woman living alone in a major city, to watch a movie like that. It would feel as though... you know, it wouldn't be safe to go out anymore, you know? Put 4 or 5 locks on your door, get a German Shepard, stay home and watch eh... you know "L.A.P.D" or "M.W.P.D." or, you know? I think it is damaging because it's destroying, you know, American streetlife, which is an integral part of our culture. And so it's scaring the pants off of most of us. And people stay in home more. You know? I think that's... I don't like that. You know? I don't wanna feel as though... to be afraid to go anywhere at anytime. I don't think anyone of us should be afraid. They create the vicarious thrill of the streets, you can perceive in a movie theatre or on television. You know, and they closely exaggerate the dangers and before you know it, you know, people are huddled in the corner. You know? And like in L.A. with a strangler now, you know? First of all, they give him a name. That's exactly the way he wants it. He's been a nobody all of his life and now all of a sudden he's "The Strangler". You know? And after every murder he goes and he sits in a bar and he watches the 11 o'clock news and you know, jerks off in a booth you know, cause now he's SOMEBODY. I think the media does more to encourage violence then anything. Cause it sells papers and it becomes eh, you know, a merchandisable commodity, you know? And then you go to a late night cafe and the only people in there are cops and murderers, y'know?

ND: Streetlife singer Tom Waits. Be with us again on The Planet. I'm Norman Davis.