|Title: The Marlowe Of The Ivories
Source: New Musical Express magazine (UK), by Barney Hoskyns. Photography by Anton Corbijn. Thanks to Kevin Molony for donating scans. Alternate version published as: "The Backpages Interview: Tom Waits", Barney Hoskyns for Rock's Backpages, 1985/ 2002 (as published on http://www.rocksbackpages.com/, 2002)
Date: May 25, 1985
Key words: Frank's Wild Years (play), New York, Swordfishtrombones, Public image, Joseph Cornell, Acting
Magazine front cover: New Musical Express magazine (UK). May 25, 1985
|Page lay-out. Photography by Anton Corbijn. Thanks to Kevin Molony for donating scan|
|Photography by Anton Corbijn. Thanks to Kevin Molony for donating scan|
The Marlowe Of The Ivories
On the verge of recording the follow-up LP to the epic 'Swordfishtrombones', Tom Waits talks to Barney Hoskyns about the recent changes in his music and career. Once the great chronicler of the boho world, his attention is now concentrated on film soundtracks and stage musicals, as well as revealing his thespian talents in Coppola's Rumble Fish and Cotton Club. Photo by Anton Corbijn.
Did his wife die in the fire?
"No, I didn't want to give the impression that she went up in the smoke. She was at the beauty parlour."
But the dog.
"The dog, yeah, the dog may have. "
Tom Waits is slouched against the wall in a downtown caf�, talking about the aftermath of 'Frank's Wild Years' and the musical into which it has turned.
"It's a story about failed dreams, about an accordian player from a small California town called Rainville who goes off to seek fame and fortune and ends up hoist on his own petard(1), as they say."
It's not the Frank of the San Fernando Valley.
"It is, but he's been altered a little bit. He burns his house down and goes off to be an entertainer in Las Vegas."
Will there be dancing in the grand musical tradition?
"A little tap dancing... I would describe it as a cross between Eraserhead and It's A Wonderful Life. It's bent and misshapen and tawdry and warm and... something for all the family. I don't know how interesting this really is to your readers in England, so I don't want to talk tedious business stuff about the play."
Well I think there are five or six of us wondering what happened to Frank.
"Uh... OK. Frank goes to Las Vegas and becomes the spokesman for an all-night clothing store. He wins a talent contest and some money on the crap tables, but then he gets rolled by a cigarette girl, and - despondent and penniless - he finds an accordian in a trashcan, and one thing leads to another, and before you know it he's onstage.
"Y'see, when he was a kid, Frank's parents ran a funeral parlour, and while his mother did hair and makeup for passengers, Frank played accordian. So he'd already started a career in showbiz as a child."
The musical of Frank Leroux's(2) wild Vegas days has now been occupying Tom Waits for the better part of the year. He has still to find a director - getting a project like this off the ground in New York is tough when you're an outsider. "The ritual around the theatre here is very well-established, and if you're comin' in from some other place, well, you wait for a table. "It's a hard city, y'know, you have to be on your toes... When I arrived, I actually had a cab-driver say, If yer can make it here, yer can make it anywhere, jus' like Frank said... "I could go out on the street and drop my trousers and start singin' 'Fly Me To The Moon' and no one would notice. I could shave my head and put on a dress and pee in a beer glass and. You invent your own apartment that you travel with in New York, you have to be a little off-centre because the things that you see are overwhelming. unless you stare at your shoes, which a lot of people choose to do in order to make it here. I'm absorbing a lot here, it all goes in someplace, but it's hard to tell what effect it's had on you till you move on."
Tom Waits, the great chronicler of the Edward Hopper shadow world of flickering neon and drizzle, of the half-lives of barflies and blondes and junkies, is a little way into what might be his second great phase. A decade of bebop lounge schmaltz, pitched between sleaze and sweet sadness, is over, and a bizarre music of mutation and incongruity, of burrowing into the weirdest outbreaks and out-takes of humanity, has begun. He is about to enter the studio and make the follow-up to 'Swordfishtrombones', provisionally to be called 'Evening Trains' (or 'Evening Train Wrecks')(3) and provisionally to be as diverse and startling as its predecessor.
"Uh, it's more rhythmic, but maybe even more oddball... I mean, oddball for me, y'know, one man's ceiling another man's floor. The thing is, you have ideas, and the hardest thing is bringing them up and bringing them out and making them as clear on the outside as they were to you on the inside, so it's like digging a hole and a lot of things don't make the trip.
"There are things I imagine and that thrill me and that I want to hear and that I'm gonna try to accomplish in the studio, but sometimes you only get halfway there. The way I'm constructing songs now is different from the way I used to, it's more like collage, maybe. You know, I'll take this and I'll put that there and I'll nail that to the side and then we'll paint it yellow and..."
"What I usually do is I write two songs and I put 'em in a room together and they have children. I have to start with two. I don't write year round, I write like a season and then I'm done. I would like to be able to write through it all, but... it gets hard, so you say I'm gonna set this time aside and for me a lot of it's like going back to a place where you go a lot, but the season changed and the vines grew over the entrance... and you get back there and you say well, I'm standing right where I was, how come I can't get back in... and then you realise that things grew over and then you get through that and you see the little path and then you're on your way."
What do you do when the writing season is over?
"Oh, I entertain guests; I'm a member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce; I do bus tours round New York; I repair lamps; I play golf..."
Well, even Iggy plays golf...
"He does? Well, I don't know. If golf really was a part of my life, I don't think I'd tell anybody. I think I'd put sunglasses and a raincoat and sneak off to do it at night. I don't know if I'd be able to be open and candid about my career in golf. But I guess it's all down to how well-adjusted you are..."
"I used to be more hung up about who I was, y'know, this is me and that's not me, and now I'm more secure. Hell, Bing Crosby died on the course, and when I read that I said this is not for me."
One of the great rock 'n' roll casualties.
"Yeah, the world lost a great golfer there, and a great father."
'Swordfishtrombones', voted 1983's best LP by this paper's critics, was a singular joker for Tom Waits to pull out of his pack. Rarely does one performer, in the space of a year, make two such different records as 'Swordfishtrombones' and the soundtrack to One From The Heart. In a sense, the latter was a lush curtain closing on Waits' grand style, a wonderfully sentimental coda to his affair with Hollywood musicals and Tin Pan Alley.
"Your musical diet determines a lot of what comes out of you, and I was listening to Ellington at the time of 'I Beg Your Pardon'. In fact there's a quote from 'Sophisticated Lady' in that song(4). I've always had a real fascination with Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer and those people."
'Swordfishtrombones' on the other hand, was like the ghost of Captain Beefheart coming out to play on the homemade orchestra of Harry Partch(5), a "small exotic orchestra" or "demented little parade band" consisting of tuba, trombone, guitar, bass marimba, accordian and piano. The 15 songs explore Waitsian backwaters with a marvelously rich and eccentric array of noises, the sounds themselves conveying the environments he depicted.
How come it took so long for influences like those of Beefheart and Partch to surface?
"Well, it goes in there and it stays there for a while and pretty soon it ends up... it's like soup, you know, you don't know what's going to end up important. It's usually your own perception of the things you listen to that influences you."
Did 'Swordfishtrombones' enable you to escape the prestige cultishness of the Asylum years?
"You get to the point where the things you hear and see and react to... you can kind of nail 'em all together and call it your own. I think for a while I had a certain romance with Tin Pan Alley and that type of thing, and a certain way the songs were constructed and. it was actually rather rigid for me, y'know, coz, I wrote primarily at the piano, and you write a certain kind of song at the piano. The piano brings you indoors immediately, so those types of songs were all different shade of the same colour. Now I'm trying to go outside more, maybe to write more from my imagination rather than being a chronicler."
I wonder if most people don't still hang on to this idea of you as the best wino chronicler - a rather easily assimilable image - when your material now embraces so many landscapes and types of character.
"They don't want you to sober up. Even though you've kept to your word that you'd write no more booze songs. You can't really, you know, be too concerned with what people really think of you, you just kinda have to pursue your own. you're on your own adventure of growth and discovery. Like Charles Bukowski said: 'people think I'm down on 5th and Main at the Blarneystone. throwin' back shooters and smokin' a cigar, but I'm on the top floor of the health club with a towel in my lap, watchin' Johnny Carson.' So I mean, it's not always good to be where they think you are, especially if you subscribe to it as well, which is easily done coz, y'know, you don't have to figure out who you are, you just ask somebody else. "
When you were living the Tropicana life(6) in LA, was it ever a pose?
"Oh gosh, you know... when I moved into that place it was, like, nine dollars a night, but it became a... a stage, because I became associated with it, and people came looking for me and calling me in the middle of the night, so I think I really wanted to kind of get lost in it all... so I did. When they finally painted the pool black, that's when I said this has gone too far. It was a pretty heavy place at times."
Are you still a "private eye", a Marlowe of the ivories?
"My eyes are a lot more private than they used to be, but I don't know, it's a little over-romantic."
There's less of you, less of the observer at the centre of the stage. You're really entering into these characters and into the Americana of 'Soldiers Things' (recently covered by Paul Young on 'The Secret Of Association') and 'In The Neighbourhood'.
"Yah, maybe... there's something very American about taking a piece of wire and some broken glass and an old T-shirt and some feathers... it's like, the garbage in New York is unbelievable, it's just... thrilling! As a matter of fact, I furnished an entire apartment with things I found on the street."
"I wanted to do a record called 'Wreck Collections',(7) coz you know when you're moving and everything gets thrown into the same box, and that's always kind of interesting to me. I'm very interested in the work of people like Joseph Cornell.(8)"
Waits other outlet is acting, his latest role being a bit-part in Coppola's The Cotton Club. A first shot at a leading part may come next year with a road picture directed by photographer Robert Frank and written by Rudy Wurlitzer(9), who scripted that Samuel Beckett-in-Arkansas oddity Two-Lane Blacktop. Has he yet been offered a role that isn't typecast?
"You know, it's hard, film people look at you and they get a sense of you and they cast you according to how they feel about you. You can't expect someone to think of you as a banker if you come like a longshoreman. It's a real insecure way to live, y'know... hoping someone thinks of you."
How do you see the current state of pop music?
"Music is always reinventing itself. Ideally it's always moving, but if it isn't it soon gets rolling again, and then it goes off here and it's all new clover and then it's like, no, the thing we had before, let's bring that back in... and it's always like, that guy was alright we shoulda brought him with us. But.... I dunno, when a scene starts to develop an anatomy and elect a president, then you have problems sometimes, the thing just becomes a popularity contest.
"England is constantly rediscovering, re-establishing, reinventing everything, it's like when they blow all the tickets up in the air to draw the winning ticket. But you can trace just about everything that's called new back to something old. "
Something compels you to be popular, but at the same time you hate the trappings of it. I like to be considered, but you also don't want to end up like a shoehorn or a desk lamp. Seems like the politics of music do to a lot of musicians the same things they do to politicians... they sell all their ideas to get into office. It's hard to make it through on the road with all the things you set out with... it's like the wagon going up the hill, and they throw out the pump organ and the.... desk lamp and the.... wedding dress and the... bowling ball, and by the time they get to the top, well, they've had an easier ride, but they sold everything off on the way up. A lot of things get lost that way."
Finally, will we ever see your "demented little parade band" in Britain?
"Yeah, I am coming, in the Fall, October. Exactly what form it's gonna take I don't know, but I intend to put together something that's... well, I'm puttin' a band together right now(10)." Tom Waits looks mildly pained as he shakes my hand farewell. "Talking about what you do is always so difficult", he sighs. "It's like a blind man trying to describe an elephant. You usually make most of it up." Thanks Tom.
The Backpages Interview:
Tom Waits Barney Hoskyns, for Rock's Backpages, 1985/2002 (alternate version as published on http://www.rocksbackpages.com/, 2002)
Thomas Alan Waits is about to release two albums simultaneously - Alice and Blood Money. In this previously unpublished interview from the spring of 1985, shortly after a move to New York City, he talks about the radical change of direction represented by 1983's Swordfishtrombones - and about the follow-up that was in the pipeline, 1985's Rain Dogs.
BH: How different is your life in NYC?
TW: It's a hard city, you know? You have to be on your toes. When I arrived, I actually had a cab driver say to me, 'If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere, jus' like Frank said.' The thing is, you could go out on the street in New York and drop your trousers and start singing 'Fly Me To The Moon' and no one would notice. I could shave my head, put on a dress and pee in a beer glass, and I'd get no complaints. You invent your own apartment that you travel around with in New York - you have to be a little off-centre because it's overwhelming, the things you see. unless you stare at your shoes, which a lot of people choose to do in order to make it here. I'm absorbing a lot; it all goes in someplace, though it's hard to tell what effect it's had on you until you move on.
Has New York affected the sounds in your head?
I think so. Construction sounds, for example. I started taping a lot of stuff, but how that'll integrate itself into what I'm doing I'm not certain. I started taping the sounds of machinery a lot and I play it back at night, 'cause you miss it when it gets quiet.
Is your new material as diverse and radical as Swordfishtrombones?
Uh, it's more rhythmic, but maybe even more oddball. well, oddball for me. One man's ceiling is another man's floor. The thing is, you have ideas, and the hardest thing is bringing them up and bringing them out and making them as clear on the outside as they were to you on the inside. It's like digging a hole, and a lot of things don't make the trip. There are things I imagine, and that thrill me and that I want to hear, but sometimes you only get halfway there. The way I'm constructing songs now is different from the way I used to. It's more like collage, maybe. I'll take this and put that there and I'll nail that to the side and then we'll paint it yellow and. it's more like construction. What I usually do is write two songs and put 'em in a room together and they have children.
What's your writing routine?
I don't write year round, I write for a season and then I'm done. I'd like to be able to write through it all, but it gets hard, so you say, 'I'm gonna set this time aside'. For me, a lot of it's like going back to a place where you go a lot, but the season changed and the vines grew over the entrance. and you get back there and you say, 'Well, I'm standing right where I was, how come I can't get back in?' And then you realise that things grew over, so you get through that and then you see the little path and then you're on your way.
What do you do the rest of the time?
Well, I entertain guests. I'm a member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce. I do bus tours round New York. I repair lamps. I play golf -
Like Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper -
- they do? Well, I don't know, if golf was part of my life I don't think I'd tell anybody about it. I think I'd put on sunglasses and a raincoat and sneak off and do it at night. I don't know if I'd be able to be open and candid about it. But I guess it's all about how well-adjusted you are. I used to be more hung up about who I was, y'know: this is me and that's not me, and now I'm more secure. Well, Bing Crosby died on the course, and when I read that I said, 'This is not for me'.
Do you think you've escaped the prestige cultishness you had on Asylum?
Well, see, you get to the point where the things you hear and see and react to. you can kind of nail 'em all together and call it your own. I think for a while I had a certain romance with Tin Pan Alley and that type of thing, and it was actually rather rigid for me, y'know, because I wrote primarily at the piano, and you write a certain kind of song at the piano. The piano brings you indoors immediately, so those types of songs were all a different shade of colour. Now I'm trying to go outside more, maybe to write more from my imagination, rather than being a chronicler.
Do you think most people cling to this idea of Tom Waits as the chronicler of booze-sodden lowlife?
They don't want you to sober up.
Even though you've kept to your word that you'd write no more booze songs.
You can't really be too concerned with what people think of you. You're on your own adventure of growth and discovery. Like Charles Bukowski said, people think I'm down on 5th and Main at the Blarney Stone, throwing back shooters and smoking a cigar, but I'm on the top floor of the health club with a towel in my lap, watching Johnny Carson. So, I mean, it's not always good to be where people think you are, especially if you subscribe to it as well, which is easily done. Coz then you don't have to figure out who you are, you just ask somebody else.
When you were living at the Tropicana in LA, was it ever a pose?
Oh gosh, you know. when I moved into that place it was, like, nine dollars a night. But it became a. a stage, because I became associated with it, and people came looking for me and calling me in the middle of the night. I think I really wanted to kind of get lost in it all. so I did. When they painted the pool black, that's when I said this has gone too far. It was a pretty heavy place at times. I had a good seat at the bar, and I could see everyone in the room, but I think there are other things to write about.
You said that what you tried to be was a private eye, a kind of Marlowe of the ivories. Is that a description that still fits?
My eyes are a lot more private than they used to be, but I don't know. It's a little over-romantic. As I said before, I prefer to think of it in terms of construction, or junk sculpture. There's something very American about taking a piece of wire and some broken glass and an old T-shirt and some feathers. The garbage in New York is unbelievable, it's just thrilling. As a matter of fact, I furnished an entire apartment with things I found on the street. I wanted to make a record called Wreck Collections.
New York, of course, is full of bag ladies and bag men.
This lady came up to me on the street and said, 'Excuse me, sir, is this the place where the clocks are?' And I said, 'Uh, yeah, this is the place where the clocks are'. She asked me who I was, and I said, 'I'm Father Time'. And she said, 'Dad!' and opened her arms.
New York is all about dismantling and reconstructing. You get a Romanian cab driver who's playing Romanian music full blast in his cab and he has a picture of Malcolm X on the dashboard and he's wearing a Budweiser cap and he has two different shoes, a tennis shoe and an Oxford, and you say, Jesus! It's insane. Musically, too, the density is interesting. I enjoy things that I've misinterpreted. Actually, New York is really like a ship, and you can imagine that this bar is the galley of the ship you're on. Because there's no real indication that there's actual earth beneath this city. Anything outside Manhattan becomes the ocean. People move to Brooklyn and they feel marooned. It's only five minutes away, but they got off the ship, you know?
Are your American fans still "truck drivers, waitresses and divorcees," as you once surmised? Or do they include Romanian cab drivers?
It is diverse. I have a lot of older people coming up and telling me they heard one of my records in their son's collection and they just flipped. Lush songs like 'Ruby's Arms'. Songs you attach memories to, songs that massage you back into the past.
Would you say there's a strong streak of sentimentality running through your work? I'm thinking of something as recent as the One From The Heart soundtrack, obviously.
Your musical diet determines a lot of what comes out of you, and I was listening to a lot of Ellington when I was writing songs like 'I Beg Your Pardon'. In fact, there's a quote from 'Sophisticated Lady' in that song. I've always had a real fascination with Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer and all those people.
In that connection, I loved Rickie Lee Jones' version of 'Rainbow Sleeves'.
Yeah, that was written for Bette Midler. She did it on the road, and then on a TV show once. Bette's one of my oldest friends. She's a real touchstone for me.
Why did it take so long for the influences of Harry Partch and Captain Beefheart to surface properly in your work?
Well, it goes in there and stays there a while and pretty soon it ends up. it's like soup, you know, you don't know what's going to end up important. And I listened to a lot of Kurt Weill too. It's usually your own perception of the things you listen to that influences you.
Have you been offered a movie role yet that isn't typecast?
You know, it's hard. Film people look at you and get a sense of you, and they cast you according to how they feel about you. You can't expect someone to think of you as a banker if you come on like a longshoreman. It's a real insecure way to live, you know. hoping someone thinks of you.
Who are the really distinctive American actors for you today? You must love Harry Dean Stanton.
Yeah, I love Harry Dean. He's a friend of mine and a very spiritual man. Michael Jay Pollard I like, though he hasn't done a whole lot lately.
How do you see the current state of music?
Music is constantly reinventing itself. Ideally, it's always moving, but if it isn't it soon gets rolling again, and then off it goes here and it's all new clover and then it's like, 'No, the thing we had before, let's bring that back in.' I don't know, when a scene starts to develop an anatomy and elect a president, then you have problems sometimes. England is constantly rediscovering, re-establishing, reinventing everything. But you trace just about everything that's called new back to something that's old.
Is the America you're painting becoming more demented all the time? With Swordfishtrombones you went way beyond the American Beat dream and incorporated more surreal, European elements into the music.
There are times when you totally disregard things in your memory and your experience, and you just have to wait till they can be used. and you hope somebody's still listening by the time you get there. I'm in a very exciting period for myself, as a writer, and a lot of the things that break through may go unnoticed, and that's OK too. as long as you know.
Was there ever any danger of your becoming a kind of Billy Joel Piano Man singer-songwriter?
Maybe if you feel like that coming on, you kinda sabotage yourself. I don't know, Asylum were really very good to me. I was on the road most of the time. You felt like a sailor, you know? Something compels you to be popular, but at the same time you hate the trappings of it. I like to be considered, but you also don't want to end up like a shoehorn or a desk lamp. Seems like the politics of music do to a lot of musicians the same thing as politics do to a guy when he finally gets into office - he sells all his ideas to get there. It's very hard to make it through on the road with all the things you set out with. it's like the wagon going up the hill, and you throw out the pump organ and the wedding dress and the bowling ball. By the time you get to the top, the wagon's lighter but you sold everything else off on the way up. A lot of things get lost that way.
Have marriage and family made work easier or harder?
Easier in some ways, harder in others. I love the way things are, I love having a family. Family's real important, y'know. If you don't have one, you invent one. Even Hell's Angels have a sense of family.
� Barney Hoskyns 1985
(1) Hoist on his own petard: [Purple Avenue ] Caught in his own trap, involved in the danger he meant for others. The petard was a conical instrument of war employed at one time for blowing open gates with gunpowder. The engineers used to carry the petard to the place they intended to blow up, and fire it at the small end by a fusee. Shakespeare spells the word petar. "'Tis the sport to have the engineer hoist with his own petar." (Hamlet, ii. 4.) (Source: "The First Hypertext Edition of The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable", E. Cobham Brewer. � 1997-99 Bibliomania.com Ltd )
(2) Frank Leroux: This fictional character gave rise to the theatre production: "Frank's Wild Years". For this production Frank was renamed Frank O'Brien, in stead of Frank Leroux. Waits' father's first name was Frank.
- Frank's Wild years Theatre book (as published on Tom Waits Miscellania): "Frank O'Brien: What can you say about Frank that hasn't already been written? Quite a guy. Grew up in a BIRD'S EYE frozen, oven-ready, rural American town where Bing, Bob, Dean, Wayne & Jerry are considered major constellations. Frank, mistakenly, thinks he can stuff himself into their shortsand present himself to an adoring world. He is a combination of Will Rogers and Mark Twain, PLAYING ACCORDIAN -- but without the wisdom they possessed. (He'll get his). He has a poet's heart and a boy's sense of wonder with the world. A legend in Rainville since he burned his house down and took off for the Big Time."
(3) To be called 'Evening Trains' (or 'Evening Train Wrecks'): This would turn out to be Rain Dogs, 1985 Island Records Inc.
(4) There's a quote from 'Sophisticated Lady' in that song: Sophisticated Lady from: 1933. Written by: Mitchell Parish Written by: Irving Mills Written by: Duke Ellington (Edward Kennedy Ellington, Recorded February 14, 1941.): "They say into your early life romance came And this heart of yours burned a flame A flame that flickered one day and died away Then, with disilution deep in your eyes You learned that fools in love soon grow wise The years have changed you, somehow I see you now Smoking, drinking, never thinking of tomorrow, nonchalant Diamonds shining, dancing, dining with some man in a restaurant Is that all you really want? No, sophisticated lady, I know, you miss the love you lost long ago And when nobody is nigh you cry"
(5) Harry Partch: San Diego multi-instrumentalist. Developed and played home made instruments. Released the album" The World Of Harry Partch". Major influence for the album 'Swordfishtrombones'. Partch died in San Diego, 1974. Further reading: Partch, Harry 1; Partch, Harry 2; Partch, Harry 3;
(6) When you were living the Tropicana life: Further reading: Tropicana Motel.
(7) I wanted to do a record called 'Wreck Collections':
- Rain Dogs was written at the same time as the Frank's Wild Years musical. Did they overlap? TW: "I tried to keep them separate, 'Rain Dogs' is like, well I don't want to sound too dramatic but I wanted there to be a connection between the tracks. I was going to call it 'Beautiful Train Wrecks' or 'Evening Train Wrecks'." (Hard Rain New Musical Express (UK), by Gavin Martin. New York. October 19, 1985).
- TW: "You try not to just chew your cud but thematically you do tend to wind up in a particular, comfortable musical geography. I'm trying to break away from that though. I don't want to feel as though I'm knitting something then unraveling it and knitting it again. And I think I did get beyond that with Swordfishtrombone. Musically it's pretty different. There are no saxophones on the record and that's a conquest for me. I wanted the record to be a bit exotic and to be more like a painting than a photograph. I see it as being sort of an odyssey, and as a wreck collection." (One From The Heart & One For The Road, New Musical Express by Kristine McKenna. Edited version reprinted in "Book Of Changes: A Collection Of Interviews By Kristine McKenna" Fantagraphics Books, 2001. Wayne's Cafeteria, Los Angeles. October 1, 1983)
(8) Joseph Cornell: Cornell, Joseph (1903-72). American sculptor, one of the pioneers and most celebrated exponents of assemblage. He had no formal training in art and his most characteristic works are his highly distinctive `boxes'. These are simple boxes, usually glass-fronted, in which he arranged surprising collections of photographs or Victorian bric-�-brac in a way that has been said to combine the formal austerity of Constructivism with the lively fantasy of Surrealism. Like Kurt Schwitters he could create poetry from the commonplace. Unlike Schwitters, however, he was fascinated not by refuse, garbage, and the discarded, but by fragments of once beautiful and precious objects, relying on the Surrealist technique of irrational juxtaposition and on the evocation of nostalgia for his appeal (he befriended several members of the Surrealist movement who settled in the USA during the Second World War). Cornell also painted and made Surrealist films. (� 31 Dec 1995, Nicolas Pioch. The Webmuseum) Further reading and images: The Artchive, Artcyclopedia
(9) A road picture directed by photographer Robert Frank and written by Rudy Wurlitzer: Candy Mountain (shot late 1986, released 1987). Movie directed by Robert Frank. Written by Rudy Wurlitzer. Also features Jim Jarmusch. Tom Waits as actor, composer, musical performer. Plays rich guy Al Silk. Performs: "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" & "Once More Before I Go".
(10) I'm puttin' a band together right now: Ralph Carney: saxophones, horns, baritone, alto, clarinet, violin, bass clarinet, banjo, harmonica. Marc Ribot: electric guitar, trumpet. Greg Cohen: upright bass. Michael Blair: percussion, bass marimba. Stephen Hodges: drums (Rain Dogs tour: October 1985 - November 1985). Further reading: Performances