Good interview with Tom Waits in today’s Sunday Times, A Grizzled Troubadour Dusts Off His Bowler. Nice discussion of the craft of putting words together to create evocative lyrics:
In unscripted conversation, Tom Waits the performer — with the buzz in his voice, the metaphorical mind-set and the strange-but-true fact at his fingertips — is recognizable in the thoughtful songwriter who discusses the craft of recording handclaps and the serendipity of meaning found in triple rhymes. He slings those in a new song, “After You Die,” a long list of similes — “like a tramp choir crying/like a campfire dying”— to ponder oblivion.
“There’s truths there that spiral out of what appears to be just a word game,” he said. “That’s what I find mystifying about the meanings of things: they kind of unscrew themselves from the practical words.”
Meanings “unscrewing themselves from the practical words,” yes! A perfect description of how meaning and meaningfulness can arrive mysteriously from the confluence of language. And I love the phrase “practical words” — the words by themselves are nothing special, daily, utilitarian, practical, but through their mixing and recombination comes the magic.