Seth Surmises – Nighthawks at the Diner

Tom Waits, Nighthawks At the Diner

Preconceptions: Nighthawks has always been second in my Waits’ 70s era Bourbon Bukowski Troubador playlist. I have seen him live since last listening to it, so I was curious how the classic live album would compare to my memories of his 1999 show in that cavernous firetrap in Boston.

After Listening: The weird flavor of his stage patter is the same as I remember, but the musical performance is less satisfying than I expected. I love the songs but there is too much talking.

Favorites:  Better Off Without a Wife, because who isn’t really?
Least:  Big Joe and Phantom 309. I prefer songs to stories, and cover songs to cover stories.

Overall: I prefer the Arista Record studio albums to this live one. Maybe it’s because of the 1970s audience. I can just picture their smug, delusional hip, wide-labeled smirks. You can almost hear the coke and herpes. Also, I like the Island Records weird percussion years better.

Rating: 3.0

Extra Credit: Check out Waits’ Rain Dogs from 1985, particularly Gun Street Girl & Hang Down Your Head.

Seth (40 Posts)

Seth (in a nutshell) is an aging punk rocker and five year resident of Cubistan, taking the office job after many years in music & fashion retail. He is a lifelong New England resident, with the exception of a year spent in Orlando Florida, the armpit of the universe. He is a skeptical cynic with a hairtrigger bullshit detector. Seth lives in Brass City, Connecticut with his wife, Vicki; his cat, Norwegian Black Metal; and his wife’s cat, who’s name he forgets.


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