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The Last Leaf on the Tree: Narrative in Tom Waits' Songs

This fourth and last volume of my Narrative in Tom Waits' Songs tells more stories of Waits' later period beginning with the blues, ballad, and experimental bastards of his musical career from Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards. Released in 2006, Orphans was compiled of songs that extended as far back as Rain Dogs and contained many which had not been previously released. I end the book series with Waits' latest album, Bad as Me, also from Anti-Records in 2011. Bad as Me continues digging in the rich vein Waits had been following since the eighties. Like a miner working a seam, he is tirelessly following the mineral to its source, and has dug deep into the earth itself, releasing the primal holler and backwoods stomp alongside the operatic subtlety of jazz and blues rhythms.

Like the first three volumes of Narrative in Tom Waits' Songs, I use the lyrics and music to tell the story waiting in the wings to come on, the one that the songs either avoid or never intended to let loose. These most recent releases tell the poignant story of the war's effect on the warrior, the aging musician up against the constant rejuvenation of his craft, and the twinges in the muscles which is the love that sprawls through the stories in the later albums. The love story which keeps the protagonist alive and breathing and sparkling through the darker elements of a world gone mad with money and weapons.

Until Waits releases another album, however, this is the last volume of my series. That being said, like thousands of other Waits fans, I eagerly await the next entrance into a world we would never have experienced without his unique talent.


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