SONG NOIR Tom Waits and the Spirit of Los Angeles Signed by the AuthorAlex Harvey
Signed by the author.
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.