Saturday, January 13, 2007

First Thoughts on Rain Dogs

So the pile is one larger.

Immediately upon my first listen, Tom Waits goes on the list. There is certain music that simply lends you its bravado, or draws a suede curtain around you that holds in the feeling of cool. “Come Together” is like that. If John Lennon, rest his soul, is still bitter that Paul wrote more big hits at the end of the Beatle Era, let him take heart. “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be” call out, “Hearers, Unite!” and commence with this communal feeling that is utterly temporary, like the poor mutants at the end of the Periodic Table that can only be created in a lab for fractions of a second.

That’s why “Hey Jude” has so many end choruses. Paul said so himself.

And why “Come Together” is a fabulous joke. You’re listening to it and looking down your nose. Cool is not communal.

Anyway, “Rain Dogs.”
“Rain Dogs” effuses a menacing energy, which produces the twinge of fear I wish shuddered through certain people when they considered me. Often I can’t understand what Tom is saying. The track I’ve reached now is lovely bittersweet, full of lyrics that would come off absurd from anybody with any less burned-up depth than him. Even when his heart is bleeding, I have to respect his darkness.

That’s cool.

And Tom, in a great service to us all, circumvents the worries of over-popularity. No frat boys are going to adopt his aphorisms or quote his songs. No ClearChannel stations will wake up some cloudy Tuesday and decide to go on a Waits kick. The Beatles will be cool no matter what suckers with lousy taste claim to like them. But Tom’s menace, like the Flaming Lips’ insanity, will always brush away the riff-raff.

That’s all I have to say about that.

1 comment:

Chris Jones said...

Eventually I have to get into Tom Waits. Maybe I'll do a Limewire binge tonight. Last night I got a bunch of Flying Burrito Brothers music.

This is spectacular writing--love the velvet curtain line especially.