Tom Waits: “I Look Like Hell but I’m Going to See Where It Gets Me”

It’s decades since Tom Waits had a drink and his music has just got weirder and better. With his 17th album out, he heads for his local roadhouse (for coffee) and talks about songwriting, hard living and his fear of phones.

  1. "I used to think that all great recordings happened at about 3am," Tom Waits is telling me, in the conspiratorial, wasted and wounded voice that still seems made for those early hours. "So my first studio experiences, I wanted to be recording after the bars closed. I just thought that's when it all happened. And it worked for me for a while, I guess. But I don't believe that so much any more. I realise now there's more than one way to sneak up on a herd of cattle…"

    Waits is sitting in the back room of a roadhouse near his home town of Santa Rosa, where the industrialised farmscape north of San Francisco starts becoming wine country. Like him, the Washoe House is something of a revered and ramshackle institution. Just about every visitor since Ulysses S Grant – who reportedly made a speech from the balcony in a state of undress after an amorous encounter on the way upstairs – has pinned a dollar bill to the ceiling, and no one has ever been desperate enough to take one down. Country mu...

The complete text of “Tom Waits: “I Look Like Hell but I’m Going to See Where It Gets Me”” is not in the Byliner library, but we love it so much we included an excerpt and a link to the full story on www.guardian.co.uk.

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