10 Things We Learned From Tom Waits
Tom Waits on Tom Waits: Interviews and Encounters is a new book edited by Paul Maher Jr, bringing together over 50 Tom Waits interviews in one massive doorstop of Waitsian wisdom and weirdness. Most artists struggle to talk with knowledge about their own music. Waits, by comparison, can talk about everything from honey bees to house flies, and the crisis facing American footwear.
Here’s 10 things we learned:
1. Honey is the only food that doesn’t go off.
“Did you know honey is the only food that doesn’t spoil?” Waits told The Onion’s AV Club in 2002. “They found it in King Tut’s tomb. Jars of honey. They said it was just as fresh as it was on the first day.”
Interviewer: “Did they actually try it?”
Waits: “They tried it, yeah. Wouldn’t you? If you found a jar of honey in a thousands-of-years-old tomb, would you put your finger into it and taste it?”
2. It’s OK to steal.
“I’m so broke I can’t even pay attention.”
“I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”
Many of Waits’s legendary one-liners have been borrowed from other sources. “I steal a lot of them from somebody else,” he says. “There are a lot of tired, old one-liners hangin’ around that aren’t being used… I like to get the odd chortle from the crowd on occasion.”
“There’s nothing more embarrassing than a person who tries to guess what the great American public would like, makes a compromise for the first time, and falls flat on his face… I would rather be a failure on my own terms than a success on someone else’s. That’s a difficult statement to live up to, but then I’ve always believed that the way you affect your audience is more important than how many of them are there.”
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