I found a great lost documentary about Tom Waits from the late 1970s recently. This piece from Interview Magazine in 1988 is perhaps even better. Here’s a sample Q&A:
Francis Thumm: What are some of your earliest memories of music and sound, and which people left a musical impression on you?
Tom Waits: Well Mario Lanza used to play golf with my dad, and my mom used to get her hair done with Yma Sumac. I went to a baseball game with Little Walter, and he told me I should get into show business as soon as possible. But I think the clearest memory I have is from when I was about 8 years old: I had a friend who lived in a trailer van by a railroad track, and his mom was enormous. I think she had got in the trailer, put on weight, and couldn’t get out. There was a lamp, a TV, and a beverage, and she always seemed to be in the same spot. Anyway, when he played, it was the first time I ever heard anybody play in a minor key, and I really recognized it as minor and was attracted to it. I still am. He taught me three chords-an A-minor blues progression-and I completely flipped. When I went to school the next day, sharing day, I got up in front of the class and played the guitar. Everybody else was sharing marbles and rocks. That was a big moment for me.
Then there was Uncle Robert. He had a tremendous rose garden, and he was a blind organist in a Methodist church in La Verne, California. In fact, after they tore the church down he took the pipe organ into his living room. I remember listening to him play the organ. And as his eyesight began to fail his performance seemed to drive into more interesting places.
Other sounds I remember: a train that went by my backyard in Pomona and my mother’s steam iron when it was boiling.
Here’s the whole thing. Read it!
Oh this is great. From Dangerous Minds:
The concert in the footage was at the Konzerthaus, specifically the Mozartsaal, which seats 704. The European tour was in support of 1978’s Blue Valentine, and in the footage Waits plays “A Sweet Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun” and “Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis” off of that album. We get three songs from Waits’ 1976 album Small Change (“Jitterbug Boy,” “Pasties and a G-String (At the Two O’Clock Club),” and “I Can’t Wait to Get Off Work (And See My Baby on Montgomery Avenue)”). Waits’ rendition of “Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis” folds in a few bars of “Goin’ Out of My Head” when he gets to the Little Anthony and the Imperials line and ends with “Silent Night”—this was his usual practice in the late 1970s.
At the end of the video Waits does a slow dance with what Hoskyns calls “a Thai prostitute” in a joint called the Moulin Rouge on Walfischgasse in the city’s 1st district. The Moulin Rouge is still there, but that area is completely different today. Walfischgasse intersects with Kärntner Strasse, which is kind of like Times Square/42nd Street in more ways than one. In the 1970s it was a red-light district, but today it is one of the most commercialized avenues in Vienna. I love the footage in the middle where Waits tells the story of the saxophonist who can’t manage the bridge to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”—few things are more “Vienna” than a little table crowded with beer glasses and stately little cups of coffee.