and even though we started by talking about blogging, which i could talk about all night we ended up talking about Tom Waits.
heres my favorite tom waits story.
when i first came to california i didnt really know much about music other than i loved it. i first worked at mcdonalds cuz nobody would hire me, but then i got a job at a record store, Licorice Pizza. mr. gary calamar who is now the music manager of kcrw and hosts the great show The Open Road, hired me even though my only experience was working for four months at the mickey d’s down the street.
in the interview he asked me to look behind him at all the album covers on the wall. he said, tell me a little something about some of these records.
i said, i love them all.
he said well pick one or two.
and i was all… starting left to right i see judas priest british steel columbia records, i like them but not as much as iron maiden and ac/dc although the new metallica record “…And justice for all” is about to come out which is gonna be top ten i betcha. next to that you have bruce springsteen the river whose hit single Hungry Heart was a last minute addition which is sorta funny since it was a double album but apparently the label didnt think there were any hits which you wouldnt think a guy like Bruuuuuce would need, but it turned out they were right and that was his first top 10 single. next to that you have Pete Townshend’s Empty Glass whose big single is Let My Love Open The Door, however the b-side is super great.
and Gary stopped me in my tracks and said, we’ll call you in a few days. and i was so depressed cuz i thought i had blown it but i hadnt and i got the gig and i learned way more about music than i ever expected. namely about Elvis Costello, the Velvet Underground, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, and the Replacements.
so Elvis Costello had a series of shows in 86 in LA. five nights. every show was going to be different cuz he basically had two records out, king of america, and blood and chocolate. one night was gonna be all king of america, one was gonna be all blood and chocolate, one was gonna be elvis’s greatest hits, one was gonna be all requests, and one was gonna be The Spinning Wheel night where he had a huge wheel of songs and whereever it landed he and the Attractions would play the song.
because im a freak i went to three nights outta the five.
but the best, and probably the best show ive ever been to was the Spinning Wheel show. elvis had invited John Doe from X and the Bangles and Mr. Tom Waits to join him for the show.
and this is how it happened.
the lights dimmed and a weird accordian sound was heard and there he was in his trademark suit and hat: tom waits, whose Rain dogs record was out and kicking ass and tom sang one of those crazy dark weirdo songs and when it was done he bowed, put down his guitar.
Welcome he said in that deep gruff voice
Welcome to hell. welcome to elvis’s nightmare. what you will do is raise your hand. if the spotlight hits you you will be asked to spin the wheel of Death. where it lands nobody knows. then Mr. McManus will lead his band of mercinaries into the song. you will either dance next to that go-go cage with his wife, or you will sit at that bar and watch Lou Reed via satellite. now who wants to come up here and spin for your life?
it was a little theatre, the Wilshire i think. not the Wiltern, somewhere even smaller. who knows, maybe it was the Wiltern… doesnt matter, i had great seats but i didnt dare spin that wheel cuz i was pretty much pissing my pants anyways.
someone got picked, they came on stage, elvis and the attractions took their positions and Tom acted exactly like a cheezy master of ceremonies and said whats your name.
ok Bob what song would you like for the band to play.
Jerry looked at the wheel and there were some Elvis classics but a bunch of weird rarities and cover songs.
“oh wow Tom I’d really love to hear them play Tom Petty’s American Girl”
ok Fred go ahead and spin for your LIFE!
and when the wheel turned around steve neive tinkled the ivories, the lights flashed and when it slowed down to the slice that showed the song the band immediately went into the number and Tom Waits escorted the spinnee to a seat next to the rickety bar area, rubbed his shoulders and then poured him a drink.
after a few songs Tom and Elvis did a tune or two together that pretty much blew everyones minds.
then the bangles of all people came out for some acoustic numbers dressed in sparkley cocktail dresses.
then john doe in a blue prom tuxedo took over as MC for the second half.
and then an angel from above said tony i hope you know youre the luckiest man of all and i said yes i know and the angel asked to take a sip from my beer and fucking chugged that bitch down burped and laughed before vanishing.
Update: the show was at The Beverly (scroll down just a tad). how on earth can i remember these things but i still havent memorized my own cell phone number?