Swordfishtrombones Two entwined narratives run through the creation of Swordfishtrombones and form the backbone of this book As the s ended Waits felt increasingly constrained and trapped by his persona and career

  • Title: Swordfishtrombones
  • Author: David Smay
  • ISBN: 9780826427823
  • Page: 162
  • Format: Paperback
  • Two entwined narratives run through the creation of Swordfishtrombones and form the backbone of this book As the 1970s ended, Waits felt increasingly constrained and trapped by his persona and career Bitter and desperately unhappy, he moved to New York in 1979 to change his life It wasn t working But at his low point, he got the phone call that changed everything FranTwo entwined narratives run through the creation of Swordfishtrombones and form the backbone of this book As the 1970s ended, Waits felt increasingly constrained and trapped by his persona and career Bitter and desperately unhappy, he moved to New York in 1979 to change his life It wasn t working But at his low point, he got the phone call that changed everything Francis Ford Coppola tapped Tom to write the score for One From the Heart Waits moved back to Los Angeles to work at Zoetrope s Hollywood studio for the next 18 months He cleaned up, disciplined himself as a songwriter and musician, collaborated closely with Coppola, and met a script analyst named Kathleen Brennan his only true love They married within 2 months at the Always and Forever Yours Wedding Chapel at 2am Swordfishtrombones was the first thing Waits recorded after his marriage, and it was at Kathleen s urging that he made a record that conceded exactly nothing to his record label, or the critics, or his fans There aren t many love stories where the happy ending sounds like a paint can tumbling in an empty cement mixer.Kathleen Brennan was sorely disappointed by Tom s record collection She forced him out of his comfortable jazzbo pocket to take in foreign film scores, German theatre, and Asian percussion These two stories of a man creating that elusive American second act, and also finding the perfect collaborator in his wife give this book a natural forward drive.

    One thought on “Swordfishtrombones”

    1. Like Captain Beefheart and at various times Bob Dylan, Tom Waits invented himself a "character" as deliberate as anything you find in a Broadway production and stuck to it, both onstage, in his songs and patter, and offstage, in his interviews. It was a radical idea. In the 70s he was the Last of the Holy Beat Barroom Singers, and if there was genuine melancholy in his art there was also a thick air of affectation hanging like Los Angeles smog over the whole enterprise, from the Edward Hopper al [...]

    2. Good addition to the 33 1/3 series examining Tom Waits' classic album Swordfishtrombones as a turning point in his career. The author, David Smay, dissembles and plays with facts as much as Tom Waits does, both in his songs and in his interviews, meaning that the story of the album that Smay tells takes on the same sort of rambling, mythic quality that the album does. It's not reportage, there aren't many interviews, and he can't actually back up anything that he says (except that Tom Waits wear [...]

    3. This book presents an interesting historical perspective on Tom Waits, noting that at the beginning of his career he was classed in the same group as Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen. According to Smay, "nobody in 1974 would've put money on Tom Waits's career being the one that would be producing vital work in the twenty-first century. He was too nostalgic, too sentimental, too hokey in his beatnickery, his voice too limited. Even the most generous projection of Tom's career from 1974 would prob [...]

    4. Swordfishtrombones isn't my favourite Tom Waits album, but it's the one that got a 33 1/3 book, and only the most crushingly canonical acts get more than one of those. Turns out it isn't David Smay's favourite either, but it's the one that gives him the best opportunity to delve beneath the cliches and the (largely self-started) myths of Tom Waits, because this was where Waits reinvented himself. And it's the hook on which you can hang a consideration of Tom Waits' personal and professional part [...]

    5. Have you ever read a book and thought: "This is a person who enjoys the sound of his/her own voice?" Welcome to such a book.I receive the 33 1/3 books for review on most occasions and this has to be the worst of the bunch--not because it's not informative (on a primitive level) or almost fun to read but due to the author trying desperately to turn phrases, to be witty, to be cute, to be poetic. When describing songs, it's always hard to find new adjectives and phrases to explain to someone unfam [...]

    6. This is a very good analysis of the album and how it fits in both with its times (1983) and its place in Tom Waits's albums. The audio version is great, but I want to buy the print version so I can easily check out all of the other albums Smay mentions.

    7. Awesome little book about the recording of this album, plus little snapshots of Tom Waits' life. This whole series is excellent, I also recommend OK Computer and Loveless.

    8. An insightful and moving guide to a transitional record that proved to be a milestone in the shaping of the current Tom Waits sound. This 33 1/3 book, much like the other one in the series I've read (Unknown Pleasures), contains a lot of interesting trivia and is written with a personal, devouted fan touch.

    9. To sum up, "Tom Waits wears plows for feet.""Tom Waits is a big, fat fucking liar.""Tom Waits wears plows for feet."This book goes down easy like a spoonful of musical Irish whisky. 100,000 stars!

    10. The author wonders a bit and at times forces his ideas onto the material, but covers sufficient Waits lore surrounding not only this album but a good bit of his career.

    11. This is another volume in the 33 1/3 series, this time covering Tom Waits' 1983 album Swordfishtrombones. This was the album that marked a radical transformation in Waits' style and sound, from down and out jazz singer to troubadour of a strange America drawing on a wider and weirder set of influences and instrumentation. Smay thoroughly explores not only the album itself but this transformation it signaled. Happily, this means that he discusses the albums that preceded an followed, showing the [...]

    12. This could have been a great little book but falls way short. It claims to be a source of information on Tom Waits’ life and inspiration during the time he wrote and recorded the album that was the broad turning point in his career, Swordfishtrumbones. That recording saw him shift from being a folky piano troubador to an experimental beat genius. I bought the book because I wanted to hear about what caused such an inspiring change, some of which I knew had to do with meeting his wife Kathleen [...]

    13. Part of the charm of this series is that each author takes on the challenge of creating a book around an album in their own way, usually letting the musical work be their guide. David Smay’s take on Swordfishtrombones was no exception. I like that there is even an explanation of how he and the designer decided to break up the title on the cover to compliment the concept of the album itself. Its the attention to details.Tom Waits is a self-created myth of a man and this book honors that by some [...]

    14. This book was a real pleasure and contains great analysis of Tom Waits' pivotal album. Unlike most rock/pop music books, it doesn't rely mainly on biographical content. It only points toward aspects of Tom Waits' life that truly affected his life and his art - like his meeting his wife Kathleen Brennan who became a co-writer and who took a tough stance against the more sentimental side of his songwriting. Or the fact that he had given up drinking for good and entered AA around the time he worked [...]

    15. Coincidentally bought and read this on a March 21, though it wasn't at all miserable, really, nor was I particularly thirsty. If that sentence doesn't make sense to you, you may not have the least interest in this brief analysis and reaction to Tom Waits's groundbreaking 1983 album, "swordfishtrombones." It's mostly for geeks who have heard the album enough times that they will recognize little references to it and the rest of his works, but it's really a nice consideration of what the album mea [...]

    16. Eh. I enjoyed reading it to some extent--it's about Tom Waits, after all--but this book is exactly what you'd expect from some hack writing about Tom Waits. Not that Smay is a hack, but this book makes him sound like he's trying too hard to emulate Waits' style as prose, and trying to hard to paint a picture of Waits based on his lyrical imagery. There isn't really much insight to Swordfishtrombones here either. Smay manages to say a lot without really saying anything of value. There is a paragr [...]

    17. My favorite of the 33 1/3 series that I've read so far. A true work of love. Well-researched, convincing, poetic, at times a little irrational, Smay attempts everything that I would ask of a music writer. The fact that he doesn't always succeed, that some of his attempts at being lyrical strike me as trying just a bit too hard, is OK by me. I want passion and at least a little of the off-beat in my music and my music writing. Swordfishtrombones is a great album, the one where Tom Waits finally f [...]

    18. This was really great. Capturing Waits at the major pivot in his career, Smay brings poetry and history to bear in equal measures as he tries to lay out what came before and what came after and how all of that ties into this lovely little record now almost 30 years old. I thought it would hold few surprises for me, but it suggests connections to the No Wave scene that seem obvious to me now, though I wish more had been said about Harry Partch generally and Francis Thumm specifically. The musicia [...]

    19. I'm a rabid Tom Waits admirer, and I appreciate his decision to keep his personal life largely secret. This book will likely not reveal much about Waits' personal life that the Waits enthusiast (the target audience for this book, I'd imagine) doesn't already know. But, that is not the point of this book. It's written conversationally, as if you are having a discussion about Swordfishtrombones with a friend who has happened to do a lot of research beforehand. I enjoyed this book greatly, and it r [...]

    20. I never knew about the formal connection of Beefheart and Waits (Herb Cohen) as well as the artistic influence (in Kathleen Brennan's LP collection), but it was one of the tidbits I gleaned on the reclusive waits from this paean to Waits' opus, his carnival and skid row style, and penchant for fantastic hyperbole. Chief of the tidbits is the Waits' New York influences and the backstory on the cover art as well as biographies of the models. Much of it is empty if entertaining imitative wordplay. [...]

    21. Good insight into Tom's writing process and life, but dang, could this author's writing style be any more obnoxious? I wanted to slap him when he started doing these free-associative stories about Tom walking through a field full of hats and disaster and picking crow feathers from the bell of a dirty trombone or whatthefuckever. Nobody needs to read that. We want to read the Truth of Swordfishtrombones. That is the sum total of all we want.

    22. The writing in this book is so full of literary quotes and poetic descriptions at times it is almost too much.Smay covers far more than just the songs themselves in this book, he covers Tom's life loves career and a great deal of detailed analysis of his other albums particularly his early work and other parts of the so called 'Frank trilogy'Brilliantly written, fascinatingly informative this is surely one of, if not the best book in this series.

    23. You don't so much read about Tom Waits as scrape through a bin looking for good tchotchkes. The author goes off- hinge a bit too much, stylistically, but manages to weave enough actual critical interest in Waits and his sound and world to keep you reading through the gaggy bits. It's a good thing these 33 1/3 books are relatively short, because I can never quite shake the "why am I reading this instead of listening to the music" feeling.

    24. Music journalism can tend towards the pompous and overblown, wallowing in its own intellectualism and self-congratulatory morass. This, unfortunately, was no different. I mean, really, it reads like there was a contest to tie Tom Waits songs to obscure literary references and this guy won.So, why did I still give it 3 stars? Because, in between all of the ridiculous fodder and masturbatory elitism, it was still about one of the best albums in the world.

    25. Probably one of the most exceptional albums by my favorite musical artist. To read about its creation and get a more personal look at the Waits/Brennan collaboration would be a treat. According to his website he's touring maybe a dozen cities this summer. Lucky you, if you live somewhere between Phoenix and Atlanta. I saw his last tour in Eugene, OR in 2000. I paid $60 then for a ticket and got the worst seat in the house. Worth every penny.

    26. Swordfishtrombones is an album I'm crazy about. In fact I like Tom Waits and find him an interesting persona. This volume of the 33 1/3 series goes into detail about every track on this album, bringing out a few surprises. I learnt a lot of new things reading this book and it's highly recommended for a Waits fan.

    27. This book is far more than I ever expected it to be so far. Smay is a talented and extremely gutsy writer who's willing to extend himself linguistically to bring you further into understanding. I love Tom Waits and I'm really enjoying Smay's contemplations of the man and this album especially.

    28. It is hard to describe books from 33 1/3 in general way. This one is not analyzing Tom's album as much as spins tails around the songs in it and Waits itself. The author managed to describe Swordfishtrombones in similar way that Waits would use and that is a treat by itself.

    29. This book only proves that Tom Waits writes music for carnies. Not that I mind carnies, but it's just not for me really. All that aside, this book was really well-written, and the stylistic touches made it all the more enjoyable to go through. Twas a good Sunday morning read.

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