August 14, 2001
I've been reading about writing and and thinking about writing lately - more so than actually doing any writing as of late.
And as such, I began thinking about Tom Waits.
You see, I think Tom Waits writes wonderful songs. One of the reasons why his songs are so damn good is that each song he writes creates a world out a strict vocabulary.
A sailor "dreams of a waitress with Maxwell House eyes, And marmalade thighs with scrambled yellow hair." At 9th and Hennepin, "all the doughnuts have names that sound like prostitutes". "Clouds are like headlines on a new front page sky."
If you read the lyrics of Tom Waits you will notice that there are no cell phones, computers, vitamins, travel agents, psychologists, or frequent flyer points.
But instead there is opera, root beer, pool tables, broken cars, robin's eggs, carnivals, whiskey, train stations, coffee and trombones.
Restless with this thought, unsure what to do with it, I started creating a Tom Waits concordance thinking that with a little cut , a little paste and a little "text to columns" in Excel, it wouldn't take long at all. After about an hour of mindless effort, I gave up.