I was in Tom Waits Mode for six weeks, re-listening to all his albums in chronological order – a real revelation. I posted writeups of each album on the slack at work, in a thread that nobody read, and figured I’d collect them all here – but they’re not really fun to re-read all together, just me searching for synonyms to express how cool everything sounds. So, not turning the movie blog into a music blog after all, instead here are the mid-career and late-career docs I watched.
Big Time (1988, Chris Blum)
A live album and concert movie, the set including one sincere song from Heartattack & Vine, one reinvented song from Blue Valentine, two new originals, and the bulk of the Swordfish/Rain/Frank’s trilogy. Tom likes to completely rework the songs in concert, resulting in some great versions – the looser version of “Underground” especially destroys the album track. Most importantly though, the movie isn’t just a concert recording, it’s got skits and visuals and stagings that reveal this whole “Tom Waits” musical career as a performance-art piece.
Tales from a Cracked Jukebox (2017, James Maycock)
Interviews with Lucinda Williams, Bones Howe, a Bad Seed, Terry Gilliam… the movie claims to be searching for the Real Tom Waits, which I’m not especially into, but fortunately it doesn’t get very far in its quest. I did learn that his dad’s name was Frank, which is somewhat illuminating re: the above-mentioned trilogy. Heavy use of Big Time in the visuals, of course… so here are some more screenshots from Big Time.