Tom Waits 'Blood Money' LP
LP includes CD copy.
Blood Money is etched. It's scratched out in bold, dark lines with marimba, trumpet and bass clarinet and contains some of Tom Waits most memorable melodies. The songs are declarative, sardonic, unforgiving, musical dispatches from the bottom of the heap.
"Blood Money is flesh and bone, earthbound," said Waits. "The songs are rooted in reality: jealousy, rage, the human meat wheel...They are more carnal. I like a beautiful song that tells you terrible things. We all like bad news out of a pretty mouth. I like songs to sound as though they've been aging in a barrel and distressed."
"Life is whittled
Life's a riddle
Man's a fiddle that life plays on
When the day breaks and the earth quakes
Life's a mistake all day long
Tell me, who gives a good goddamn
You'll never get out alive..."
(Starving In the Belly Of A Whale)
Blood Money is a new collection of thirteen songs originally written and produced by Waits and longtime collaborator and wife Kathleen Brennan. "Kathleen and I are well suited to this material. She is hilarious, blasphemous and ominous. She's the brains behind Pa," said Waits.
Blood Money careens from the brutal to the tender with assaulting rhythms and romantic melodies. It's a grim musical deposition on the human condition, a dark mortality play where Tin Pan Alley meets the Weimer Republic.
"I'd sell your heart to the junkman baby
For a buck, for a buck
If you're looking for someone
To pull you out of that ditch
You're out of luck, out of luck"
(God's Away On Business)
"She's a rose, she's the pearl
She's the spin on my world
All the stars make their wishes
on her eyes"
(Coney Island Baby)
"Misery Is The River Of The World" and "God's Away On Business" have a percussive backbeat that sounds like a dead army of marching skeleton men. This signature rhythm first appeared on 1992's Bone Machine, but the army seems larger on these songs. Waits attributes that to a new percussion instrument: "There's a lot you can do with a giant four foot dried, curling, boomerang seed pod from the Botang Tree that grows only in Indonesia," said Waits.
Blood Money features musicians: Charlie Musselwhite (harmonica); Larry Taylor (bass); Andrew Borger (drums, marimba, percussion); Matthew Sperry (bass); Gino Robair (percussion); Bent Clausen (piano, marimba); Bebe Risenfors (bass clarinet); Ara Anderson (trumpet); Colin Stetson (clarinet, bass clarinet) and Waits on piano, chamberlain...and calliope.
"It's a 1929 pneumatic calliope with 57 whistles," said Waits. "It's no wonder they used them in the circus, it can be heard up to five miles away. The studio is in a canyon, we were in an old house there and people in neighboring communities complained of the noise. While playing, your face turns red, blood pressure goes up, your hair sticks up like Einstein's and you're sweating like you ran a mile, what's better than that?"
"Golden Willie's gone to war
He left his young wife on the shore
Will she be steadfast everyday?
While Golden Willie is far away
Along the way her letters end
She never reads what Willie sends"
(Another Man's Vine)
Blood Money is based on the socio/political play "Woyzeck," originally written by a young German poet Georg Buchner as a spare, cinematic piece in 1837 and inspired by the true story of a German soldier who was driven mad by bizarre army medical experiments and infidelity, which led him to murder his lover. Waits and Brennan wrote songs for an avant-garde production of "Woyzeck" directed by Robert Wilson. "Woyzeck" premiered in November, 2000 at the Betty Nansen Theater in Copenhagen and went on to win Denmark's version of the Tony for Best Musical last year.
The Danish production has toured extensively in Europe to sold-out houses and wide acclaim and comes to New York and Los Angeles this fall.
"A good man is hard to find
Only strangers sleep in my bed
My favorite words are good-bye
And my favorite color is red"
(A Good Man Is Hard To Find)
Blood Money contains songs from the bottom of the world. There is a feeling the songs are trying to reach you from another time or dimension, where there is an eerie vaudeville cabaret playing fado, parlour songs and cambias. Appropriately, the record ends its macabre tale with, "A Good Man Is Hard To Find." Ironic in the spirit of Dennis Potter's use of music in The Singing Detective or Pennies From Heaven, it is an oddly sanguine nostalgic adieu from a ship going down.
Catalogue number: 8714092662931