40’s Insights: Nighthawks at the Diner

Tom Waits – Nighthawks

Preconceived Notions: This one’s been on my playlist for about 15 years now. So the preconceived part of this is more of just me being glad that “my storyteller” answer to Mr Dylan is up for rotation.

After Listening: I’m reminded of the year I spent living in Boston-as that’s where I really fell in love with this thing. Late nights with gin and whiskey, after a hard day of browsing the used bookstore around the corner for “finds” like Bukowski, Miller, Vonnegut, and a dozen others. The semi idle mind of the unemployed and disenfranchised. As Waits himself might say “conditions were perfect” for him to grow on me. I put this album at the top (or on some days near the top), b/c it’s held up to me so well outside of that time in my life when I was closest to living the Waits lifestyle. I love the contrast between the tighter tracks, and the wandering ones…the live aspect is appreciated since that is best way to capture the Waits humor and delivery. His “film noire” style pieces, melancholy ballads, and generally noodling are all presented with the implication that even he knows they’re not to be taken too seriously.

Favorite Tracks: “Eggs and Sausage “ the intro is amazing, the baseline is better. “Warm Beer and Cold Women” – the lyrics and the title are just about perfect. “Putnam County” – it’s not for everybody, but something about the pace of that jagged piano theme….man, it paints the perfect support for the lyrical story description above. “Big Joe and Phantom 309” – sure he’s not really singing this one, but the guitar is a nice break and mild surprise from the rest of the album.

Least Favorite: “On a Foggy Night” – never really connected with this one. I suspect it’s how some people feel about all Waits- rambley slow, sort of uninspired.

Overall: 4.75 It’s not quite a perfect album, but there are times when it is….late nights mostly, slow times. And for that it’ll always have my respect.

40 (45 Posts)

40 has had training enough in classical theory to know roughly what he's talking about. As for talent, he considers himself a crappy guitar player. He has a BA in Audio & Sound Recording BA, so not only does music creation intrigue him, but also music production. He believes that expression takes all forms, and it has to be remembered that music is an art form and is ultimately about connection, communication, experimentation, creativity, freedom, emotion, and 100’s of other things.


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