As a burlesque artist, clown and physical storyteller, I wanted to find a way to bring together my interests in psychoanalysis, mythology and feminism, and take up the challenge of creating an extended piece that harnessed the rhythms and references present in the writings of Waits; and so came ‘Frontal Lobotomy.’ This was the way Jeu Jeu la Foille was finally given the opportunity to speak, and who better to channel my writing through, than the man with the most commented upon voice ever.
The show is a collection of myths, poems and images, all gravitating around seduction and danger, trauma and healing, cabaret and science. There is plenty in there the Tom Waits fanatic, and similarly for those who have never even heard of him. He’s an acquired taste!
Some of my favourite videos.....
Induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Speech
‘They say that I have no hits, and that I’m difficult to work with, and they say that like it’s a bad thing.’
A round up of his many faces, performance style and charming, rambling persona.
‘All the doughnuts round here have names that sound like prostitutes....and the rooms they smell like diesel, and you take on the dreams of the ones who’ve slept there....’
Waits has a really evocative way of describing places, and there are some beautifully disturbing images in this spoken word piece about a street he specifies as in Minnesota. The video has a startling reveal halfway through that I just love!
‘The Immaculate Confection.’
Waits performing on the David Letterman show, with such style. He performs like he’s channelling spirits here, and that confetti hat strut is delicious.
Some Waitsian ramblings from various interviews matched with great animation on this video. He is a wonderful storyteller, and I love the way describes his creative process. Waits is notoriously difficult to interview, and journalists can never get a straight answer out of him. But buried within the conjecture is magnificent insight and authenticity.
Singing and standing a bathtub with bubbles floating all around him. Need I explain any further?! Such a whimsical and fantastical image to frame one of his most well-known ballads.
Waits has had an illustrious film and theatre career, playing off-beat characters such as drunks, crooks, inventors, and this case The Devil. In every film, in every scene, he makes an unforgettable entrance.
This is the Waits most people think of first, slurring and swaying his way through the music. What I enjoy about this clip is that this performance sounds so different to the recorded version on ‘Small Change’, he goes off on a guttural tangent, and tangos with his cigarette smoke to a saxophone solo.
A resoundingly cool performance with beautiful saxophone and double bass backing.
A more political song from Waits, accompanied by shadowy, disturbing imagery in this video.
Beautiful lyrics and melody, a sentimental Tom hunched over a piano, singing about ‘wounds that will never heal’ – it’s still strangely uplifting, and remains the only one of his pre 1983 songs that he will play live.