Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

1. Tom WaitsBlue Valentine

I first time I heard that record was in about 1986 and that was the first record of his that I heard; I believe when I was about 21 or 22 I believe. I don’t know that I picked up on it right away, but eventually it became something that I’ve probably listened to every single week since I first heard it.

There’s a couple of songs on there, one in particular, ‘Kentucky Avenue’, that my wife can’t ever listen to because if she listens to it, she starts crying, no matter what. That one’s banned in our house. I think it’s a particularly difficult song to digest because people don’t really pick up on it or know what exactly he’s talking about in that song, and I like to leave it that way.

I like his other records and I think his newest album is really good, but that record for me is just such a go-to record in my life and it’s probably in my top-five albums ever. I think lyrically it’s pretty amazing and I really like the fact that he recorded the whole album live to two-track. I guess it would be a straighter album for him which I liked too. Maybe not as straight as some of his earlier stuff, but the musicianship is really something.

‘Romeo is Bleeding’, ‘Postcard from a Hooker in Minneapolis’, ‘Christmas Card’ all help to make it just a fucking great record. Oh and ‘Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard’ of course. It’s my go-to album for Tom Waits: it’s his benchmark.

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