When Tom Waits released a bizarre series of pictures that were cryptically captioned and were marked with the statement “Coming August 7th,” the music world presumed that this meant the iconic Waits was preparing to announce a tour. With most musicians of his stature, a tour announcement would incite excitement amongst fans: “Come to Chicago, please!” With Waits, the normal mode of operation is a little different (as if “normal” was ever part of Waits’ image). The man simply doesn’t tour very often. His most recent tour –aptly named the Glitter and Doom tour– was back in 2008. Consequently, these “teasers” put Waits’ fans in an uproar equivalent to NASA’s mission control when “Curiosity” successfully landed on Mars.
The only issue is that most of us Tom Waits fans counted our chickens before they hatched. And honestly, I cannot think of a more dangerous person to do that with than Tom Waits. I could actually visualize Waits and his cronies sitting around in a room, seeing the internet light up with “Tour!” excitement, and decide to release a video in place of a tour just to get under our skin.
I, like so many others, have been anxiously awaiting what August 7th would ultimately bring. And like many others, found myself disappointed when instead of a tour, a music video to Waits’ song “Hell Broke Luce” from his 2011 album Bad As Me was released. Don’t get me wrong, the video is cool, but I’m left with the feeling that Ralphie has in A Christmas Story when he unlocks Little Orphan Annie’s secret message only to have it say; “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.” Of course, I have no one to blame for my disappointment except myself, even if it is “a lousy commercial.”
Waits’ war-time critique packs a wallop, though –especially with the video as its backdrop. Waits is one of the few songwriters who has the ability to tackle prevalent issues and not have it sound preachy, uninformed, or just lame. If you need further evidence, listen to “Day After Tomorrow.” Waits can simply pull it off better than anyone. As the Waits fan I am, I am of course holding out hope for an eventual announcement of a bigger nature than a music video.
Hang down your heads Waits fans, we’ve been had by one of the best in the world.
Brian is an active musician and songwriter with the band Something With Trees and spends a great deal of his time perusing around the music world in one form or another.
Tom Waits Releases Video for “Hell Broke Luce”