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Icon: Tom Waits

It has the smoothness of Barry White, but the raspiness of a mountain lion.

Why yes, that is RZA describing Tom Waits’s voice—perhaps better than anyone else ever has.

And it’s that voice—that raspy, gnarly, gutter-dog howl of a voice—that has fueled the myth of Tom Waits for 40-some years now, up through today’s release of Seven Psychopaths, starring Waits (curiously petting a curiouser bunny) as one of the psychopaths.

It’s a myth that’s as iconic as any, and well worth a little thought and consideration...

After the jump: that thought and consideration, plus the most stylish pictures of Waits ever taken...»

The Filthiest Song of 1937, by a Lot

While preparing last week’s report “In Defense of Cussing,” we stumbled upon a 1937 song by Lucille Bogan that contained the first swear word ever recorded. Judging from Ms. Bogan’s photo, we assumed her vernacular would have been similar to that used in, say, Gone with the Wind—which, in 1939, became the first major film to employ the word “damn.” We were fantastically wrong.

“I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb. I got somethin’ between my legs that’ll make a dead man come...”»

Agata Danilova Is Waiting for a Chair Delivery

Water, Fall: Sometimes drinking from a water bottle is too hard. These women have chosen to simply pour it in the direction of their faces. [The Hairpin]

The Musings of Max Fischer: Jason Schwartzman enjoys Tom Waits, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Wallace Berman. Also, he’s broken a lot of watches. [GQ UK]

#23 Has Landed: Some details on Daniel Craig’s third Bond film—including Javier Bardem as the villain and Naomie Harris as at least one of the girls. [Entertainment Weekly]

Friends Forever: Playing the Kevin Bacon game with buddy comedies, Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. Surprisingly enough, it works. [Vulture]

Girls Like Strangely Shaped Curtains

Also, Drinks Sherry: As usual, Bryan Ferry wears the hell out of a summer suit. [A Suitable Wardrobe]

Our Man in Thailand: Boogie offers some spectacular black and white photos of Thailand—and a few more from the boxing ring. [Hypebeast]

Trunks: Commerce with a Conscience rounds up their favorite swim trunks. [CWAC]

Reasons to Love Tom Waits, Part 43: Vulture’s recap of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction makes Tom Waits sound pretty awesome, and Neil Young sound pretty incoherent. [Vulture]

The Analog Crown Jewels


Count on Tom Waits to dig up both an all-but disappeared species of creole jazz and an all-but-disappeared record player to play it on. Sometimes, you just have to go for the full anachronism.

As part of a benefit for Preservation Hall in New Orleans, Tom Waits teamed up with the house band for a recording of two classic Mardi Gras chants circa 1947, but they’re only being sold as limited edition 78-rpm records, just like back in the day. If you spring for the deluxe package, they’ll even throw in a custom-made 78-rpm phonograph to play it on. It might be the crown jewel of a vinyl culture based on tactile authenticity…or just a really cool party favor.

A Voice from Beyond


Clint Eastwood’s amazing for a lot of reasons (a more long-winded explanation of his greatness is available here), but his singing voice was never part of the package. And 78 is probably not a good age to start up.

For his upcoming film Gran Torino, he’s putting his tortured pipes on full display over the closing credits. The result could most flatteringly be described as “whispery,” but Vulture’s description—“Tom Waits with a punctured lung”—is probably also valid.

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