"Slept all night in the Ceder Grove
I was born to ramble
born to rove
Some men are searchin for the
Holy Grail
but there ain't nothin sweeter
than ridin the rails"
-Tom Waits

I've been listening to several of my Tom Waits CD's and hands down, he is definitely my favourite singer/poet. His music is so original and defies any kind of formal description, I just love his mismash of styles: Blues, Jazz, Blue Grass, Rock, Spoken Word, and the Carnivaleque.

One of the things I admire most about him is how his music doesn't follow any current music trends and he isn't afraid to experiments and play with sounds/words/voice. In his new album, Real Gone, his voice becomes an instrument and it's so strange and refreshing to hear what comes out of this man's mind and mouth.

He's also a master story teller and able to create extremely memorable characters in a small amount of lyric space. I love to read his songs as poems and then the kicker is to put on his CD's to hear his gravelly voice.

For those of you who know Charles Baudelaire's masterwork, Fleurs de Mal (Flowers of Evil) and of his use of "spleen" - not the body part - but in finding the beauty in darkness or the beauty of melancholy, I can really see that kind of beauty in Tom Waits' work.

His music is absolutely not for everyone. It can be dissonant and abrasive at times and I found myself not understanding or "getting" many of his songs when I first listened to them. For example: I didn't like his albums Alice or Frank's Wild Years at first but I've come to realize that his music cannot be listened to and understood in one sitting. They need to aired out and allowed to breathe, like a fine wine. You have to take small sips before diving in and taking a big gulp.

When I take out an album like Alice and put it into my CD player, I imagine that I'm in the middle of a dark forest and a big metal barrel is sitting between me and Tom. A fire is burning in the barrel and the shadows dance on the trees. He looks like a crooked scarecrow, wearing a dark worn down fedora. And I listen. I listen to his songs and stories, enthralled.

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