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Song Noir examines the formative first decade of Tom Waits’ career, when he lived, wrote and recorded nine albums in Los Angeles; from his soft, folk-inflected debut, Closing Time (1973), to the abrasive, surreal Swordfishtrombones (1983). Starting his song-writing career in the ’70s, Waits absorbed la’s wealth of cultural influences.
Combining the spoken idioms of writers like Kerouac and Bukowski with jazz-blues rhythms, he explored the city’s literary and film noir traditions to create hallucinatory dreamscapes.
Waits mined a rich seam of the city’s low-life locations and characters, letting the place feed his dark imagination. Mixing the domestic with the mythic, Waits turned quotidian, autobiographical details into something more disturbing and emblematic; a vision of la as the warped, narcotic heart of his nocturnal explorations.