A Brief History of John Baldessari, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman and narrated by Tom Waits.
WAITS/CORBIJN ’77-’11 is a new book of photographs by singer/ songwriter/ actor/ poet/ artist Tom Waits and photographer/ director Anton Corbijn taken over the course of a 35-year friendship and collaboration. Notes the publisher’s blurb:
Waits’ vibrant persona helped Corbijn define his narrative, cinematic style of still photography: images that felt as if you were coming in on the middle of some unfolding drama. In turn, Corbijn helped Waits evolve his visual style into a new theatrical self that synced beautifully with the experimental music he was making with Brennan. And lead him to his own photography, collected here for the first time under the title “Curiosities,” a visual handle to the artistic intelligence millions of fans know only through his music. Photographs of Tom Waits by Anton Corbijn, photographs by Tom Waits of the vivid quotidian, stretching down through the years, and presented for the first time in a beautiful clothbound book; side by side, these 226 images record one of the longest and most fruitful collaborations in the careers of both artists.
I love this artwork above, where Waits identifies the “seeds” of his artistic self with the literal seeds of a smashed tomato, that traditional symbol of fan revolt against artists, making this both a homage and an insurgency. You can see more of Waits’ visual work, replete with stains, poem fragments, desperados, shadows, jackrabbits and the detritus of abandoned dreams, in the photos section of his website.
For good measure, I’ve identified all of Waits’ Named Seeds: [Read more…] about The art of Tom Waits: Saved and “Named” Seeds (Heirloom Tomato)
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.