Title: Tom Waits: Orphans
Source: Anti Records promo interview as published on Anti Records official site.
Date: August, 2006
Key words: Orphans, creative process


Tom Waits: Orphans


BRAWLERS: 01. Lie To Me 02. LowDown 03. 2:19 04. Fish In The Jailhouse 05. Bottom Of The World 06. Lucinda 07. Ain't Goin' Down To The Well 08. Lord I've Been Changed 09. Puttin' On The Dog 10. Road To Peace 11. All The Time 12. The Return Of Jackie and Judy 13. Walk Away 14. Sea Of Love 15. Buzz Fledderjohn 16. Rains On Me

BAWLERS: 01. Bend Down The Branches 02. You Can Never Hold Back Spring 03. Long Way Home 04. Widow's Grove 05. Little Drop Of Poison 06. Shiny Things 07. World Keeps Turning 08. Tell It To Me 09. Never Let Go 10. Fannin Street 11. Little Man 12. It's Over 13. If I Have To Go 14. Goodnight Irene 15. The Fall Of Troy 16. Take Care Of All My Children 17. Down There By The Train 18. Danny Says 19. Jayne's Blue Wish 20. Young At Heart

BASTARDS: 01. What Keeps Mankind Alive 02. Children's Story 03. Heigh Ho 04. Army Ants 05. Books Of Moses 06. Bone Chain 07. Two Sisters 08. First Kiss 09. Dog Door 10. Redrum 11. Nirvana 12. Home I'll Never Be 13. Poor Little Lamb 14. Altar Boy 15. The Pontiac 16. Spidey's Wild Ride 17. King Kong 18. On The Road

When I was small I always thought that songwriters sat alone at upright pianos in cramped smoky little rooms with a bottle and an ashtray and everything came in the window blew through them and came out of the piano as a song.and in a weird way that is exactly what happens.

What's Orphans? I don't know. Orphans is a dead end kid driving a coffin with big tires across the Ohio River wearing welding goggles and a wife beater with a lit firecracker in his ear.

At the center of this record is my voice. I try my best to chug, stomp, weep, whisper, moan, wheeze, scat, blurt, rage, whine, and seduce. With my voice, I can sound like a girl, the boogieman, a Theremin, a cherry bomb, a clown, a doctor, a murderer.I can be tribal. Ironic. Or disturbed. My voice is really my instrument.

Kathleen and I wanted the record to be like emptying our pockets on the table after an evening of gambling, burglary, and cow tipping. We enjoy strange couplings, that's how we got together. We wanted Orphans to be like a shortwave radio show where the past is sequenced with the future, consisting of things you find on the ground, in this world and no world, or maybe the next world. Whatever you imagine that to be.

If a record really works at all, it should be made like a homemade doll with tinsel for hair and seashells for ears stuffed with candy and money. Or like a good woman's purse with a Swiss army knife and a snake bite kit.

Orphans contains songs for all occasions. Some of the songs were written in turmoil and recorded at night in a moving car, others were written in hotel rooms and recorded in Hollywood during big conflamas. That's when conflict weds drama. At any rate these are the ones that survived the flood and were rescued from the branches of trees after the water's retreat.

Gathering all this material together was like rounding up chickens at the beach. It's not like you go into vault and check out what you need. Most of it was lost or buried under the house. Some of the tapes I had to pay ransom for to a plumber in Russia. You fall into the vat. We started to write just to climb out of the vat. Then you start listening and sorting and start writing in response to what you hear. And more recording. And then you get bit by a spider, go down the gopher hole, and make a whole different record. That was the process pretty much the last three years.

Then we met Karl Derfler, a wizard engineer who works at Bay Side Studios in Richmond, CA, in the science fiction part of town. A battlefield medic, he did a Lazarus on a number of the songs and recorded all the new material.

On Orphans there is a mambo about a convict who breaks out of jail with a fishbone, a gospel train song about Charlie Whitman and John Wilkes Boothe, a delta blues about a disturbing neighbor, a spoken word piece about a woman who was struck by lightening, an 18th century Scottish madrigal about murderous sibling rivalry, an American backwoods a cappella about a hanging. Even a song by Jack Kerouac and a spiritual with my own personal petition to the Lord with prayer.There's even a show tune about an old altar boy and a rockabilly song about a young man who's begging to be lied to.

I think you will find more singing and dancing here than usual. But I hope fans of more growling, more warbling, more barking, more screeching won't be disappointed either.

Tom Waits August 2006

Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards is a spectacular musical journey, which visits most every genre of American song tradition.

The diverse 56-song, 3-disc collection captures the full scope of Tom Waits' shamanic powers as a vocalist, literary lyricist, romantic melodist, innovative arranger and pioneer of sonic worlds.

This deluxe limited edition release, written and produced by Waits and his longtime collaborator and wife, Kathleen Brennan contains 30 new and never before heard recordings, plus rare songs taken from collaborations with artists in film, literature and music-complete with a 94-page handmade booklet of lyrics and rare photos. The set, which took over three years to compile and record, is grouped by genre with songs guaranteed to move and shake the heart, the body, the mind and most unquestionably the soul.

Each of the CD's are separately arranged and sub-titled - "Brawlers," "Bawlers" and "Bastards" to encapsulate the full range of Waits' nomadic scope of musical styles.

Brawlers is packed with full throated juke joint stomp, boogies and riotous blues. It's roadhouse Waits,..He chugs, whistles and screams. It's primal steaming surreal blues. He channels the Stones, Beefheart, Muddy Waters and T-Rex. One new one, "Low Down" is raw garage rock with Waits' 20 year old son, Casey on drums and San Francisco's white trash blues icon, Ron Hacker, on guitar.

Bawlers - Lonesome ballads about the sadness at the end of the road are framed by tender songs of innocence and green hope. The plaintive hill country laments of, "Tell It To Me" and the cautionary tale, "Fannin Street" blend poignantly with saloon songs of betrayal and despair ("The World Keeps Turning") Celtic waltzes and bitter cabaret torch songs like, "It's Over" and "Little Drop Of Poison", all of which explore what the heart gives and what it takes away.

Bastards - explores the strange and unusual side of Waits, who is peculiar by nature. Contained here is experimental music and scary tales. There are uncategorizable diversions into this dark side. It tunnels beneath the city with spiels, rants, mouth rhythms, including a poignant reminiscence of car ownership, a Ramones cover and a version of Daniel Johnston's, "King Kong," a disturbing bedtime story,(not for children faint of heart),and a poem by Charles Bukowski. It has insects, murder, drowning and insanity. Or as ma says, the full dinner menu.

Orphans Liner Notes:

Brawler musicians: Anges Amar - Whistles Bobby Baloo - Boulders, Cowbells Seth Ford-Young - Bass Joe Gore - Guitar Charlie Musselwhite - Harmonica Marc Ribot - Guitar Larry Taylor - Bass Casey Waits - Drums Tom Waits - Vocal, Guitar, Keyboard, Percussion, etc. Dave Alvin - Guitar Andrew Borger - Percussion Brain - Percussion Ralph Carney - Sax Les Claypool - Bass Steve Foreman - Percussion Brett Gurewitz - Guitar Ron Hacker - Guitar John Hammond - Harmonica Stephen Hodges - Percussion Gino Robair - Percussion Jeff Sloan - Percussion.

Bawler musicians: Bobby Black - Steel Guitar Seth Ford-Young - Bass Joe Gore - Guitar Carla Kihlstedt - Violin Nic Phelps - Horns Larry Taylor - Bass Ray Armando - Percussion Andrew Borger - Percussion Matt Brubeck - Bass Dan Cantrell - Accordion Ralph Carney - Saxes Bent Clausen - Banjo Jimmy Cleveland - Trombone Harry Cody - Banjo Greg Cohen - Bass Chris Grady - Trumpet Brett Gurewitz - Guitar Billy Higgins - Drums Art Hillery - Piano Trevor Horn - Bass Adam Lane - Bass Charlie Musselwhite - Harmonica Eric Perney - Bass Dan Plonsey - Clarinet Steve Prutsman - Piano Bebe Risenfors - Clarinet Gino Robair - Percussion Mike Silverman - Bass Nolan Smith - Trumpet Matthew Sperry - Bass Francis Thumm - Piano Leroy Vinnegar - Bass Sullivan Waits - Guitar Tom Yoder - Trombone.

Bastard musicians: Ara Anderson - Trumpet Michael Blair - Drums, Percussion Brain - Percussion Matt Brubeck - Bass Crispin Cioe - Sax Bent Clausen - Piano Greg Cohen - Bass Eddie Davis - Banjo Darrel Devore - Circular Violin Mitchell Froom - Chamberlain Bob Funk - Trombone Arno Hecht - Saxes Bart Hopkins - Bamboo Clarinet Carla Kihlstedt - Violin Guy Klesevik - Accordion Gary Knowlton - Keyboards Mike Knowlton - Guitar Larry LaLonde - Guitar Mark Linkous - Guitar, Drums, Bass Paul "Hollywood" Litteral - Trumpet Charlie Musselwhite - Harmonica Tom Nunn - The Bug Marc Ribot - Guitar Bebe Riesnfors - Clarinet Colin Stetson - Sax Larry Taylor - Bass Richard Waters - Waterphone Casey Waits - Drums Tom Waits - Vocals, Percussion, Pump Organ.