Not only does one-man blues punk The Legendary Tigerman regularly get compared to Tom Waits; he gets compared to the artists Tom Waits himself once got compared to: Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, etc. A long line of gruff and gritty bluesmen. This one just comes with a Portuguese accent. So it’s only fitting that on his new EP Misfit Ballads – a companion to new album Misfit, about to be released in the US and UK – the Legendary Tigerman tackled Waits himself. Continue reading »
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This week, Joan Baez revealed she will be retiring from the road at the end of 2018 . The announcement was accompanied, as these things often are, by an exhaustive list of tour dates and a new single. The song, a cover of Tom Waits’ “Whistle Down the Wind,” will be the title track for her upcoming studio album.
Baez has always been adept at interpreting other people’s music, covering tunes by the likes of The Band, the Beatles and practically making a career of singing Bob Dylan songs (and giving him a career too). Even today, four out of five of her top tracks on Spotify are covers; the great “Diamonds and Rust” is the exception.
We get a lot of Ariana Grande covers submitted to us, and they tend to follow a formula: a young woman showcases her best arena-filling belt on YouTube. Like Mariah Carey before her, Ariana Grande songs offer an occasion to show off one’s vocal chops. Some of the belting is pretty good, but big, powerful singing doesn’t make an Ariana Grande cover any different than an Ariana Grande original. But now, finally, we have a musician taking a very different approach.
J Hacha De Zola hails from the town of Rahway, New Jersey and exhibits the state’s blue-collar work ethic: he’s already released two albums this year! And if that wasn’t enough output, he’s now got a bonus cut, his wild new cover of Grande’s “Bad Decisions.” It’s a wonderfully ramshackle production, a huge, swaying barroom roll somewhere between Tom Waits and the Pogues (longtime Waits saxman Ralph Carney in fact plays on his latest album, Picaro Obscuro). If you know Grande’s original, this cover is barely recognizable – and if you don’t the recording stands on its own. Continue reading »
A Suitcase and Gasoline-Can Bass Make for a Truly Bizarre Mountaintop Tom Waits Cover
Many of the best Tom Waits covers polish off Waits’ most oddball tendencies to bring out a more conventional beauty (Springsteen’s “Jersey Girl,” Baez’s “Day After Tomorrow,” Cash’s “Down There By the Train,” etc). Here’s a band that went in the opposite direction.
Swedish trio Domino Majestic climbed a nearby mountain to cover “God’s Away on Business,” dragging a harmonium with them. Now in most bands, the harmonium would be the strangest instrument, but here’s it’s the most conventional. It’s accompanied by a bass made of an old gasoline can (it’s worth watching their video about this bizarro instrument) and a guy pounding on a suitcase with a mallet. Continue reading »
Back in 2006, Tom Waits released an outtakes and rarities compilation called Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards. At 56 tracks, it had a lot – but not nearly everything. So fans dutifully compiled a companion collection of everything left on the cutting room floor, cleverly titled Forgotten Orphans. In addition to more outtakes and b-sides, this fan bootleg included something the main set lacked: live performances. Many of those were super-rare covers, none of which have ever been officially released. But they are worth hearing. Tom Waits is widely regarded as an excellent songwriter, but these covers showcase Tom Waits’ power as a song interpreter. He’s never gone the Bob Dylan route of periodic forays into cover albums, but if he ever did, these songs show how great such an album could be. Continue reading »
Justin Vernon of Bon Iver has put together a music festival in his hometown of Eaux Claire, WI this summer, and they’ve been putting some cryptically-titled videos to promote it. One, titled “It Was a Train That Took Me Away From Here…” turns out to be a cover of Tom Waits‘ “Train Song” by Francis and the Lights. Performed surrounded by lights, it’s a beautifully-shot minimalist piano cover a far cry from the full band’s dancier work. Continue reading »