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on January 3, 2012
If you're a Waits fan (why else would we be here?) here's a bucket of blood and guts and anvil bangin' you'll enjoy. I found it best to actually play the albums and songs as he talks about them (the interviews are arranged by album release), and I was not disappointed with the details Tom reveals about the writing of many of my favorites, e.g. "Rain Dogs, Singapore, Cemetery Polka," etc.

With the videos a few keystrokes away on Youtube, it's easy to immerse yourself in the huckster / carnival barker tapestry only Waits can weave. My appreciation for the man's oeuvre has been greatly enhanced with the sweeping, revealing scope of these interviews. I have a much better understanding the man himself and how he constructs his tone poems. Kudos to Paul Maher and others who worked on this lovely compilation.
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on November 17, 2011
And one size fits all......
There's some overlap in the beginning interviews, as the same album material gets covered by different interviews, but things start getting very hip around Swordfish Trombones. Tom's quotes become more sophisticated, and deeper. By the Bone Machine section, it becomes a truly intelligent fascinating read. Some of his musings remind me of the thoughtfulness, subtlety, and curiousness of Walter Murch's (Coppolas's editor) comments in his conversations book with Michael Ondaatje. Waits thinks and speaks like an educated artist. Read, and become enlightened. Beware, if you're a fan, your life will stop while you're reading this book.
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on June 13, 2013
This is a compilation of his interviews from the beginning of his career until right before the release of his last cd.
I have read several bio's on the man (unauthorized) and found this to be enlightening. It filled in the blanks for some of the questions I had.
In the beginning he was candid giving us a glimpse into his personal life. At the end he is always elusive but little tidbits slip now and then.
I gives a view into Tom's head and is full of his wry sense of humor. I laughed throughout the book.
The only bad thing I can say is that it ended.
I thank the author for the journey.
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on November 4, 2012
As in his books on the interviews of Jack Kerouac and Miles Davis, Paul Maher Jr. has again thoroughly researched the available interviews of his subject matter. The result is a book which gives those who have interest in Tom Waits' body of work insights that until now just have not been placed into an organized account. It is remarkable how an artist who is otherwise known to protect his privacy is actually willing to reveal in these interviews. Waits brings journalists to his own backyard: diners, bars, pool halls, cars, etc. If Waits becomes comfortable talking , he talks - not about his family, but about what he put into his music, his art. There are no put-ons a la Dylan, just an honest artist who has given his all over the years to remain fresh and relevant.

Fans of Tom will be glad that Tom does reveal some personal details, most importantly that he is healthy and has "drank enough." He knew when to say when and moved on. Paul Maher Jr. is to be congratulated for his good sense in the interviews he has chosen, and for placing them in a well organized fashion. Maher also provides excellent background essays of his own which are helpful in keeping perspective on Waits' career. Maher's essays and introduction are well written and never intrusive. I for one am sick and tired of authors who make books of this ilk into avenues for their own pontificating. Those writers present seemingly endless introductions, and editorial comments that detract from books that are supposed to allow us to hear the artists own views. Maher has become a master at knowing that he has a fascinating subject matter and an ever ready audience, so he is helpful and never trespasses on a great story. This is true in this book and the ones on Kerouac and Miles Davis. Any fan of Tom Waits will cherish this book. It's been a long time coming.
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on June 7, 2012
I rented this book from the library about a week ago, and it's completely pushed all of my others books out of the way.
As the other reviews stated, the only way to understand Tom Waits is to read between the lines, because he certainly won't tell you anything straight up. If anything, you'll at least get a handful of great quotes out of this book, but, the thorough reader will find, if they approach the book in the right way, they'll find that they indeed do have a better understanding of Tom Waits as an artist, musician, and human being. It's truly amazing to see the Evolution of Waits from his early jazz-beat type songs to the Swordfishtrombones era of the 80's and his constantly expanding methods of musical expression. I especially liked the Terry Gilliam interview, that is one worth reading a few times, content is so true. The way Waits managed to expand mature in his career while at the same time remaining humble and grounded should be a model to any artist of any kind, and after reading this book I have even more respect and admiration for Tom Waits.
Truly an American Hero.
Tom Waits for President!!
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on March 12, 2013
The music of Tom Waits makes me smile, laugh and sometimes cry. But he never disapoints. The interviews help fill the gaps of what I did not know or imagined. A good read.
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on December 20, 2013
Doesn't get much better than this
Waits throws curveballs and sliders in each interview, then sits back and watches you swing and try to hit what might be the truth. No matter, he's as entertaining an interviewee as he is a performer. I even learned a few things from him. Excellent read
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on August 17, 2014
This book is a compilation of interviews done by Tom Waits.Wait's humor and odd take-offs on life make this book a worthy and very enjoyable read. He is a genius, musician, actor and a great interview.
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on August 17, 2014
You just have to love Tom Waits! Really fascinating and good service. Thank you.
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on January 1, 2012
If Tom Waits wasn't real someone would have to invent him. And someone did invent him - Tom Waits.

More than any artist since 60's Dylan, Waits has deliberately allowed the fantasy world of his songs (in Tom's case, gothic junkyard bum) to spill over into all his interviews. Does he ever tell the truth? Yes. But usually only when he's lying.

Words are words, spoken or sung, so if you love Tom's music you'll love these interviews. If fact, if you're new to Waits, you may find the interviews a good 'way in' to his music - as I did. Waits is usually funny, often profound and eminently quotable.

Fans may ask why they need to buy this book if they already have the interview compilation Innocent When You Dream? Though Tom occasionally repeats himself, only two interviews appear in the previous book

The Man Who Howled Wolf - Magnet magazine
The Heart of Saturday Night press release by Waits

the other 50 are new to this book (though of course you may have read them in the magazines).

The interview style ranges from generic "favourite film/song quizes" to a rambling chat with Terry Gilliam, and arranged chronologically and grouped into the albums they're promoting

Add in a short (factual) biographical intro to each album and it's the closest thing to an autobiography you're ever gonna get.
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