Monday, June 14, 2010

Tom Waits - "Under The Influence" DVD

These unauthorized critical examinations are really well-done, but generally essential only to the already-devoted fan. This is no exception. Waits, it needn't be said, is an enigma, and an American songwriting legend at this point. His music is instantly identifiable, from his gruff froggy vocals to his ramshackle, old-time vaudeville vagabond beat-poet persona. "Under The Influence" tackles exactly what inspired Waits through the years, and through the eyes of his collaborators and journalists, we see some of the jumping-off points that led Waits to forsake "pop culture" and embrace a timeless, historical context within his music and art. Beginning with the beat poets (especially Jack Kerouac), we get portraits of writers like Charles Bukowski and Ken Nordine, and musicians like Captain Beefheart, the Rolling Stones (chiefly friend and collaborator Keith Richards), avante-composer Harry Partch, and European songwriters Kurt Weill and Bertold Brecht. Waits' widely-disparate influences make sense, and this DVD does a fine job examining, and proving these inspirations to be likely truths. That's not to say that Waits has emulated any of these composers too greatly, as his vision and personality are uniquely his own. Well worth a look to any Waits collector, but if you don't consider yourself already interested in the man's impressive body of work, this won't convince you. (Chrome Dreams via MVD Visual)

No comments: