A Tribute to Tom Waits

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There are a select few musicians that possess a undeniably unique sound. Each decade has owned a few as a handful come to mind: Elvis, Aretha Franklin, John Lennon, John Fogerty, Steven Tyler, Steve Perry, Eddie Vedder, Bono, and maybe even Chris Martin these days. Though Tom Waits would certainly fit snug within this subset of artists, he is often overlooked on a handful of levels. A prolific songwriter, Waits has released over 20 albums with his growl-like voice that has in return earned him the company of two Grammys. Waits’ music is often recognized more-so via the prominent musicians that has covered his work—Springsteen with “Jersey Girl” and Rod Stewart with “Downtown Train” to name a couple. After scoring his first soundtrack with film icon Francis Ford Coppola, with One from the Heart (received Academy Award nomination), he has spent a significant portion of his career in the film industry—not only as a musician but actor (Coffee and Cigarettes, The Fisher King, Dracula).

Although Waits is often “typecast” as an 80s musician with theatrical tendencies, he has had a profound impact on the arts. VH1 recognized him as one of the most influential artists of all times and Paste Magazine gave him and his counterpart, Kathleen Brennan, the #4 spot on their “100 Best Living Songwriters” list. I figured a tribute was due after seeing the following video yesterday. “Come on Up to the House” is off of his 1999 Album Mule Variations (which he won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album). As much of his work in the last decade, this song lends itself to a soulful gospel sound—full of spiritualesque cries. Although unverified, the following seems to be “unofficial” and directed by Anders Lövgren. Plenty could be discussed. Lyrics are below.

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Come On Up To the House
Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan

Well the moon is broken
And the sky is cracked
Come on up to the house
The only things that you can see
Is all that you lack
Come on up to the house

All your cryin don’t do no good
Come on up to the house
Come down off the cross
We can use the wood
Come on up to the house

Come on up to the house
Come on up to the house
The world is not my home
I’m just a passin thru
Come on up to the house

There’s no light in the tunnel
No irons in the fire
Come on up to the house
And your singin lead soprano
In a junkman’s choir
You gotta come on up to the house

Does life seem nasty, brutish and short
Come on up to the house
The seas are stormy
And you can’t find no port
Come on up to the house
There’s nothin in the world

(Chorus)

there’s nothin in the world
that you can do
you gotta come on up to the house
and you been whipped by the forces
that are inside you
come on up to the house
well you’re high on top
of your mountain of woe
come on up to the house
well you know you should surrender
but you can’t let go
you gotta come on up to the house

(Chorus)