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Tom Waits' Swordfishtrombones (33 1/3) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: 33 1/3 (Book 53)
  • Paperback: 143 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (December 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826427820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826427823
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 4.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #878,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Another bodice-ripper in the 33 1/3 series." —Cory Frye, Under the Radar Magazine (Cory Frye)

"Smayacts as a side-mouth talking tour guide leading us through the darkness, givingus flashlights so we can illuminate the parts to love the whole we never quitesee." —Matthew Fiander, Popmatters.com
(Matthew Fiander)

"Intelligent discussion ofTom Waits is a rare bird, and this volume is welcome addition." —The Big Takeover



"Another bodice-ripper in the 33 1/3 series." —Cory Frye, Under the Radar Magazine (Sanford Lakoff)

"Smayacts as a side-mouth talking tour guide leading us through the darkness, givingus flashlights so we can illuminate the parts to love the whole we never quitesee.” —Matthew Fiander, Popmatters.com
(Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

David Smay has co-edited two books on music with Kim Cooper: Lost In the Grooves: Scram's Capricious Guide To The Music You Missed, and Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth. He's a regular contributor to Scram, has an upcoming piece in Oxford American and has occasionally dithered about pop music on NPR, French Television and documentaries only shown at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas. But his best interview was with Ratso the punk rock puppet at Quimby's in Chicago. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children, Emmett and Matilda.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Chris bct on February 14, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
And it turns out, this one keeps the spirit of the album by not being a dry reporting or an academic exercise. The author honors this key turning point album in Waits' career with the creative dignity it deserves. I kept finding info bits in it that I liked, that I didn't know and I'm a bit Waits fan. As per the 33 1/3 series he breaks down the album song by song and appears to strive to not have any bland sentences. Don't think I found one. Glad I bought it. If yer a fan, you really should. If yer not into Tom Waits, forget it, this is a fan's delight.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mike Yacullo on October 9, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was an extremely disappointing addition to the 33 1/3 series. After reading the excellent 33 1/3 book about Paul's Boutique, I moved immediately to this one. While there is some information about how the songs were written and recorded, to get to it you have to slog through pages and pages of David Smay's made-up "Chuck Norris Facts"-like tales of Tom Waits. Click the Search Inside link above and read the first chapter to see what you're in for - the whole book is like that. Maybe this is great for David Smay fans, but Tom Waits fans are better off reading a different book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Hundley VINE VOICE on July 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Swordfishtrombones (the album) was one of those great goggle-eyed moments in popular music, when something so unexpected hit your ears that you had to listen to it 2 or 3 times in a row, right off the bat, one play after another, the day you bought it, to start getting our head around it. For those of us who were Waits fans BS (Before Swordfish) immediately fell into two camps: love it or hate it, natch. I was a love it.

Say was, too, it would seem. While he wisely avoids falling into the "here's-the-history-of-Waits" mode, he does give glimpses into what came before here and there to put the album into some context, but mostly he focuses on the album itself and how it reflects what is known of Wait's life at the time, in particular his then-new marriage and partnership with Kathleen Brennen, who instantly became his muse, partner, confidant and conscience. Sort of. More or less.

Using a song-by-song structure, Smay delves in, digresses, conjects and reflects on Waits' work here, in the past and into the future. Mostly this is a lot of fun and is an interesting and insightful look into the album. He falters on occasion, particularly in his Jungian Tom-foolery and fable-izing. I could have lived without those, but neither did I find them the major stumbling block some other reviewers here did.

Overall, this is an interesting addition to the growing Waits literature and is certainly worth a read for those who are in tune with what Waits does (whatever you may want to call it) in general, and those for whom this amazing record fell on out of the blue way back when Waits looked as though he had painted himself into a corner of drunken beatnik stupor that he might not be able to find his way out of. Of course, he didn't. He blew up the corner instead. And out came growling and screaming this masterpiece that Smay has examined here. Not great, this little volume, but worthy.
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