Title: Mountain Music Lounge interview
Source: Mountain Music Lounge, 103.7-FM. KMTT radio in Seattle/ USA. Interviewer unknown. Transcription from tape by "Pieter from Holland" as published on the Tom Waits Library. �2004 KMTT/ Entercom Seattle-Tacoma.
Date: October 19, 1999
Keywords: Seattle, Mule Variations, touring, Kathleen


Mountain Music Lounge Interview


Q: 103.7-FM at The Mountain. We find ourselves live in the Mountain Music Lounge once again, and today it's quite a treat here because he's one of the most diverse adventurous artists of the last 30 years. He's perfroming 2 sold out nights at the 5th Avenue Theatre(1). Last night was night number one, tonight is night number two. Tom Waits is here. Tom!

TW: Alright...

Q: Welcome!

TW: Okay thanks.

Q: Welome to Seattle. How did last night go? We got numerous emails and calls from people that were at the show, said that it was absolutely thrilling. Not a single negative comment...

TW: Wow! Okay...

Q: And you? How do you feel about last night?

TW: I felt good. Yeah, it was a good night for us. Yeah, the crowd was wild and eh... Yeah, it felt good out there.

Q: Do you after a show, do you de-brief at all? Do you get the gang together and say: "How did it go?" Or do you think about it yourself?

TW: Eeehh... Oh yeah, well we get together and talk about the shows, yeah. How everybody felt about that. Because everybody's experience is unique and rather diverse you know. So yeah, everybody talks about how it was for them, and all that, yeah.You know.

Q: First time in 12 years that you have gone out on tour, and as comfortable as you appear up on stage, joking around, telling stories, and of course the music and all, it would seem like you'd be touring all the time. Why the infrequency?

TW: (laughs) I don't know. I eh... There's so many other things to do... (laughs) I mean, there was a period of time when I was on the road all the time. And I was, you know I would... I lived in a hotel when I was home. I mean, it all seemed kinda like the same to me. And eh, so now you know I have time for other things, you know. Hat shopping and getting good with a bull whip and eh ice sculptures and eh... sheet rock... and plumbing, electrical. That type of thing...

Q: But do you like touring? Is it something you like to do?

TW: I like it after.. Well, we go out for 2 weeks and we come home for 2 weeks and you know. I DO, I like it. You know. And eh it's a bit of an adjustment to go from that to back home, be cause you know, you got all this applause every night and...

Q: And no one is applauding at home?

TW: ... and be (..?..) you know when you walk: "Can I bring you something?" You know it's very different at home.. So...you know it's like: "Get it yourself!" (laughs) So it does take a bit of a transition to get out of this and back...

Q: Well then that's kinda weird when you're on for 2 weeks and then off for 2 weeks because then you're transitioning all the time?

TW: Yeah. It's hat on hat off you know. But it's... you know I like it you know. We got a really good band. Smokey Hormel on guitar, Larry Taylor on upright bass, Danny McGough on keyboard, and eh Andrew Borger on percussion. And eh they're an excellent band.

Q: So you got a 4 piece band back when you're up. But here at the Music Lounge it's you and, and I gotta say it's the first time we've ever had a full on piano here in the Mountain Music Lounge . Makes it kinda feel tight confined quarters, but... It's good to have you. Tom Waits live in the Mountain Music Lounge. And the first song that you said you were gonna play for us is a song you say you don't do typically play, just you and the piano right?

TW: Oh, I usually do it with the band but I'll try and do it by myself. (starts playing the piano). Well this song is on the new record I wrote with my wife and eh. You know. This is one we collaborated on. And it's called "Hold On".

("Hold On" live in the studio)(2)

Q: Wow! God that sounded beautiful! 103.7- FM, The Mountain. That's Tom Waits, live here in The Mountain Music Lounge, and a song from his latest CD Mule Variations called "Hold On". You mentioned Tom that eh that you and your wife co-wrote most of the songs, all but like two or three tracks of the album right?

TW: Yeah right.

Q: How does her approach to songwriting differ from yours?

TW: She's more patient and she's... ehm (laughs) Eh, I don't know, she's the brains behind pa, as they say (laughs). And she's more disciplined, that's for sure. And eh...

Q: Is it a argumentative process? I mean ...

TW: No!

Q: ... do you guys come out of it from different directions and fight it out?

TW: (laughs) You're gonna start a fight now! No absolutely not! (laughs) No we don't fight. You know, I hold the nail and she swings the hammer. You know, the way you do anything is usually the way that you do everything. You know, you find a way to... you find a rhythm and you know, a way to do it. She's a...

Q: How many songs did you guys write for this album. It ended up being a 16 track CD.

TW: Sixteen songs on there yeah.

Q: ... that are on the album. How many did you write...

TW: About 25, or something.

Q: And what happens to a Tom Waits song that doesn't make it on an album?

TW: Oh, I don't know. You find various purposes for them. You know, put them on a compilation album. Or you give them to somebody who was looking for a song on a record and wants something unreleased. Or I just, you know, throw them on the scrap heap somehow. Sometimes you use them for parts. Just take a couple of lines out of there and stick it in another song.

Q: Do you, do you still keep a note book, to kinda keep track of songwriting ideas?

TW: Oh yeah.

Q: Typically how many times a day do you scrawl something in there?

TW: Ghee I don't know. I go days without putting anything in it, and then all of a sudden you got a new title you know. Or something... You know, there's no real complete method to it. It's just you know, whatever strikes you. You know it's just like one of those things. You know.

Q: And then when you actually go into the songwriting process, do you pull that notebook out and...

TW: Sure yeah..save newspaper articles and all that. You know in a big old brown paper bag and dump it on the floor and start going through it.

Q: Later this year, december, you turn 50.

TW: Ghee who told you that!?

Q: I came across that little bit of...

TW: I thought I was gonna be 49!

Q: (laughs) What's been the toughest part of life so far?

TW: ... ehmmm (laughs) That's a big question for a...

Q: (laughs) For a little man like me!?

TW: Well, you can say that! I'm kinda point blank you know. I kinda have to think about that. What's been the hardest?

Q: Yeah.

TW: Ghee I don't know. It's all been pretty good you know?

Q: You're happy with the way your life's turned out? You wouldn't want to live it any differently?

TW: (laughs) Well I don't know if I can say, "It's turned out"! I mean, you know, cause I'm still going.

Q: That's right. that's right.

TW: ... anymore then you have "turned out". You know?

Q: Yeah.

TW: I'm not out of the oven yet.

Q: (laughs) All right, Tom Waits is live here in The Mountain Music Lounge. You got another song of Mule Variations?

TW: Yeah... (at the piano). Oookay eh...

("Picture In A Frame" live in the studio)

Q: 103.7-FM The Mountain. Tom Waits live here in the Mountain Music Lounge. Thank you so much.

TW: Sure.

Q: Thanks you so much for coming in and playing and for coming back on tour and coming back to Seattle.

TW: All right.

Q: Best of luck with the second show tonight.

TW: Thank you.

Q: And with your 2 weeks off. Is it just 2 weeks off this time or is this it?

TW: Going home for a while and then I'll play this Bridge concert(3). You know in San Francisco.

Q: Yeah, Neil Young's thing.

TW: Yeah a benefit concert. And that's it for a while.

Q: Take good care of your voice. Or continue to abuse it! So it sounds that way (laughs)

TW: Okay.

Q: Alright Tom Waits live in the Music Lounge. Here on 103.7-FM.


(1) 5th Avenue Theatre: October 18/19, 1999. These were the last 2 shows of the Mule Variations tour. Further reading: Performances

(2) Hold On live in the studio: Later released on "Live from The Mountain Music Lounge - Volume 6" (2000), re-released on "Live from The Mountain Music Lounge - Volume 10" (October, 2004). Further reading: Discography: rare

(3) This Bridge concert: October 30, 1999: Concert appearance at the Annual Bridge School benefit (Neil Young's Charity) at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View/ USA. "The Bridge School is an educational program dedicated to ensuring that children with severe speech and physical impairments achieve full participation in their communities through the use of augmentative & alternative means of communication (AAC) and assistive technology (AT) applications. Bridge School has established an outreach program to share what is developed at the school with parents, professionals and users of AAC/AT across the world." Further reading: Bridge School official sitePerformances