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Wild Years: The Music and Myth of Tom Waits Paperback – May 1, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
So it shouldn't have surprised me that Tom Wait's biographies have been as badly written, speculative, and poorly directed as his music has been insightful and original. From his early years Waits portrayed the piano playing drunk, the street poet, the loser with dreams, and seemed to love using that voice to speak to the press. Interviewers were treated to long yarns about his life, loves and friends, yarns spun from a humorous imagination by a private man. Books trying to build on this paper foundation have fallen flat as last night's beer, and if some fans (and reporters) were annoyed by his evasions and stories, more were entertained by the them, and willingly accepted Waits as the character he portrayed, a seedy addition to American mythology.
Waits is not the first artist to use a stage persona as a privacy screen, but he was one of the most successful. It is my opinion that this avoidance was not so much a personal aversion to the limelight, but a desire to proect his music from himself. To that end, he only revealed the parts of himself that supported his music, and, like any good thespian, hid the machinery with the scenery.
Finally, someone got the point. Jay S. Jacobs writes about Waits from a thoughtful perspective unseen in previous biographers. Guiding us with a wink and a smile past the many myths and tall tales, Jacobs brings us backstage to the artist without knocking down his front door.Read more ›
Of all the musical biographies I have ever read (and I have read a lot), this is by far the best. Wild Years is painstakingly researched, never boring, clear cut, unapologetic, highly informative, and most of all entertaining.
The man that is Tom Waits, is far removed from his public persona. Wild Years kills all the rumours, and exaggerations, it releases the truth. Filled with the same humour as Waits' own music making Wild Years a thoroughly enjoyable and informative read.
Of all the waits biographies this is the one to get, and this edition as it has extra chapters.
But Jacobs tried as best as he could.
To write about Waits is to write about every character ever portrayed in any of his songs. Every one has it's own story, however sad, drunken, miserable or, eventually, happy character it actually is. and writing stories about one life is hard enough in itself. And Waits is as real as his characters and his songs are. To forget about them means concetrating about factography of Waits's life, and every factography is boring as hell without some kind of story to support it. Starting that story puts one in a risky state, in which he may find himself not being able to finish what he started.
And this is exactly what happened to Jacobs. Somwhere along the way, he loses the perspective and starts to talk about Waits in a manner of a hardcore fan. Finding himself lost, not being able to return himself to a storyline that he left behind, Jacobs loses his critical perspective and starts to make out statements like "very good" "best" "legendary" without any manner of backing up those words. Whole biography suddenly starts to be too much factual and thing dissolves in itself. Magic of Tom Waits is lost.
One useful thing, though, is a helpful discography of Tom Waits's records which can help one alot if he tries to collect all of it. But even so, that can hardly be reason for buying a book...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a good Tom Waits history, but it seems like the author has never been in the same room with Waits. Read morePublished on September 16, 2013 by D. Mannon
This was the perfect gift for my son-in-law who is a hugh fan of Tom Waits. Can wait to see his reaction when he gets it.Published on April 20, 2013 by Jeannie
This was a really interesting book full of rich stories. The stories may not be 100% true, but it captures the signature flavor of Tom Waits. Read morePublished on May 15, 2012 by Alex
Based on the other reviews of this book, I thought I'd take a stab at it. I'm not really one for biographies, but I'm a HUGE fan so why not? Read morePublished on January 20, 2012 by Melody
This book is nothing but boring. It basically tracks Tom's Wait's life going from CD to tour to CD. It gives little about the man who wrote the songs. Read morePublished on December 30, 2010 by huckelberry
I am a hardcore Waits fan, and I'm very impressed with mr. Jacob's seriousness and respect for his subject. Considering Wait's known tendency to keep his life private, mr. Read morePublished on May 31, 2009 by Michael Lifson