Every Record I Own: Tom Waits – Closing Time
I didn’t grow up around a lot of music. The TV was on most the time in both houses, which stopped music being played and I got the impression that music was an expensive waste of money, because you could get it for free on the radio and TV. My dad talked a lot about Supertramp and Muddy Waters but never owned them on CD (he would occasionally complain that mum took all the records in the divorce, but those records weren’t in mum’s modest record collection). Like most mothers in the early 2000s, Mum got very into Norah Jones, but other than her only ever bought compilation CDs from the discount section. Other than that, my older sister was very into pop music at the end of the 90s and early 2000s. My stepmum really liked John Farnham and had the Natures Best Compilations. I don’t remember my stepdad ever listening to music.
Whenever I said ‘You too’ my stepdad would say ‘U2, they don’t play anymore’ which was a very frustrating joke because at that time U2 were one of the biggest bands on the planet, he just didn’t pay attention to popular culture enough to know that, and had assumed they’d broken up.
There isn’t much music that reminds me of my parents, but this album reminds me of Mum.
Not because she listened to it that much, but because it was one of the two CDs she bought and put on that ever captured my attention. (The other was Ray Charles). Once I got a stereo of my own (thanks to me finding one sitting unused in Granddad’s spare room and basically insisting that I take it away) this CD joined Linkin Park, Good Charlotte and Shihad as one of the few in my collection. I didn’t listen to it anywhere near as often as those ones, but it was still there.
I don’t know what it was about this music that appealed to a 13 year old who otherwise mostly listened to pop punk, but something about it did. And whenever I played it mum would stick her head in my door and say ‘You’re listening to Tom Waits.’ Maybe that’s what I liked about it.
I later got into the 80s/90s era Tom Waits through my friends Henry and Chris who loved him. It took some dedicated effort to enjoy that but eventually I got quite into albums like Swordfishtrombone and Rain Dogs. Around that time I disowned my affection for this album saying that his later stuff was far more interesting.
On a side note, Tom Waits age has always baffled me. I had it in my head that he was a middle aged man when he recorded this album, so thought by the time he was making the weird music in the 80s and 90s he was in his 60s and 70s. Now it’s 30 years later and he is only 73. Looking at the cover of this record there is quite a young man on the front which I have never paid attention to.
I acquired the record when my flatmate Jon(o/ny) moved out of the flat without taking a lot of his things. If you’re reading this Jonny you can have it back if you really want it. Jonny was the first person my age I had talked to about Tom Waits who preferred this era to his later stuff and it allowed me to revisit it and enjoy it myself.
I don’t listen to much Tom Waits anymore, but when I do it’s this album.
Fave Songs: Ol’ 55, Martha