Title: Direct News Interview
Source: Direct News, WNEW-FM radio (USA) by Scott Muni/ Martin Perlich. Late 1978 Transcription from tape by "Pieter from Holland" as published on the Tom Waits Library
Date: Aired late 1978
Key words: cynicism


Direct News Interview


SM: This is Direct News.

TW: I would say, that they probably got hit by a truck, y'know? Maybe 5 years ago I'd say: well, they lived happily ever after.

SM: Today streetlife singer Tom Waits talks about his growing cynicism. After this...


SM: This is Direct News, I'm Scott Muni. Tom Waits has made a career out of being seedy. He has put out an album a year for the last 6 years. Six albums of raspy backstreet songs, ranging from: ballads to bebop to jazz. His newest is Blue Valentine on Elektra-Asylum. Tom Waits lives in a sleazy L.A. motel(1). And his urban outlook seems to be getting more cynical, judging by the deaths and jailings scattered over his new songs. Direct News reporter Martin Perlich asks him about his attitude.

MP: Is Tom Waits more cynical these days?

TW: I don't know if I'm more cynical, I just eh... I don't live in a vault or anything. I mean, I could be like driving by a church and I could see like eh, you know a guy in a tuxedo and a nice girl in a white dress and they're throwing the rice and, you know, and they come down and the organ's playing and everybody's smiling and then they go 'round the corner, I would say, that they probably got hit by a truck, y'know? Maybe 5 years ago I'd say: well, they lived happily ever after, y'know?

MP: Where do you now stand in the L.A. music scene? You now appear to be more like a person you'd expect to find in New York.

TW: Maybe, because of the urban environment and eh... I think a lot of writers are beginning to deal with urban problems, I think it's a significant step you know? You know, I don't just write about what I see outside of my window, I've spent a great deal of time traveling and eh... About 7 months out of the year I'm on the road in strange towns and I sleep with one eye open, and I read the papers and I try to stay abreast with current affairs and...

MP: Well, it seems to me you're not, as you are putting it, living and resting on your Laurels Canyon. It's that you're living in the city whereas the people who have made it in the 60's and the 70's in rock 'n' roll are living can afford to life.

TW: Yeah, oh I'm living where I can afford to live. (laughs) You know I'm not rolling indoor or anything. But I think it's very important to, for me at least, to live as close to the things that I find important to deal with as a writer. So, I live in a hotel and you know, it's interesting there. I feel comfortable in a hotel, you know? There's always a cigarette-machine you know. Somebody's always up when you're...

MP: But you're not singing about the Rocky Mountain area and eh organic food and eh... Jesus.

TW: No you're right!

(Sweet Little Bullet From A pretty Blue Gun)

SM: Singer-songwriter Tom Waits. This is "Direct News".


(1) Tom Waits lives in a sleazy L.A. motel: further reading: The Tropicana