Tom Waits

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Thomas Alan Waits (born 7 December 1949) American composer, singer, songwriter, musician and actor.


  • And sometime around 2 AM you end up taking advantage of yourself. Ain't no way around that. Making a scene with a magazine.
    • Nighthawks at the Diner (1975)
  • Don't you know there ain't no devil, there's just God when he's drunk.
    • "Heartattack and Vine", Heartattack and Vine (1980)
  • I'm so goddamn horny, the crack of dawn better be careful around me!
    • Nighthawks at the Diner (1975)
  • She called me Hen Fap Thomas, said that I was something that she needed to have!
    • Nighthawks at the Diner (1975)
  • Your veal cutlet gets up off the plate, It walks down to end of the counter and beat the shit out of my cup of coffee. I guess the coffee just wasn't strong enough to defend itself.
    • Nighthawks at the Diner (1975)
  • I don't have a drinking problem ‘cept when I can't get a drink.
    • "Bad Liver and a Broken Heart", Small Change (1976).
  • And the things you can’t remember tell the things you can’t forget that history puts a saint in every dream.
    • "Time", Rain Dogs (1985)
  • The piano has been drinking, not me.
    • "The Piano Has Been Drinking", Small Change (1976)
  • If there's one thing you can say about mankind, there's nothing kind about man.
    • "Misery is the River of the World", Blood Money (2002).
  • What's he building in there? We have a right to know.
    • "What's He Building in There", Mule Variations (1999)
  • Come down off the cross, we can use the wood.
    • "Come On Up To The House", Mule Variations (1999)
  • And someone will head south 'til this whole thing cools off.
    • "Small Change", Small Change (1976)
  • And their mouths are cut like razor blades, and their eyes are like stilettos, and her radiator's steaming and her teeth are in a wreck, she won't let you kiss her, but what in the hell do you expect?
    • "Small Change", Small Change (1976)
  • If you get far enough away you'll be on your way back home.
    • "Blind Love", Rain Dogs (1985)
  • The large print giveth and the small print taketh away.
    • "Step Right Up", Small Change (1976)
  • Some men are searching for the Holy Grail, but there ain't nothing sweeter than riding the rail.
  • Pregnant women and Vietnam vets, beggin on the freeway, bout as hard as it gets.
    • "Cold Water", Mule Variations (1999)
  • "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."
    • TV show "Fernwood2Night", 1977

(origin of above quote, I'd rather have a bottle...., Dorothy Parker, American short-story writer and poet, 1893-1967)

  • "Our Father, who art in Krebari, hallowed be thy glass. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in the lounges. Give us this day our daily splash, and forgive us our hangovers as we forgive those who continue to hangover against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil...and somebody give us all a ride home."
    • The live recording of "The Piano Has Been Drinking", "Bounced Checks" (1981)
  • "Disneyland is Vegas for children."
    • Playboy 20 Questions, March 1988
  • (When asked for advice for younger musicians) "Break windows, smoke cigars, and stay up late. Tell 'em to do that, they'll find a little pot of gold."
    • Musician magazine, October 1987
  • The dog won't bite if you beat Him with a bone
    • "Lowside of the Road", Mule Variations (1999)


  • Champagne for my real friends and real pain for my sham friends
    • This was earlier used by Anglo-Irish painter Francis Bacon. See Jeffrey Bernard, Low Life, Pan, 1987.
  • My kids are starting to notice I'm a little different from the other dads. "Why don't you have a straight job like everyone else?" they asked me the other day. I told them this story: In the forest, there was a crooked tree and a straight tree. Every day, the straight tree would say to the crooked tree, "Look at me...I'm tall, and I'm straight, and I'm handsome. Look at're all crooked and bent over. No one wants to look at you." And they grew up in that forest together. And then one day the loggers came, and they saw the crooked tree and the straight tree, and they said, "Just cut the straight trees and leave the rest." So the loggers turned all the straight trees into lumber and toothpicks and paper. And the crooked tree is still there, growing stronger and stranger every day.
  • I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.
  • "I don't have fun. Actually, I had fun once. In 1962. I drank a whole bottle of Robitussin cough medicine and went in the back of a 1961 powder-blue Lincoln Continental to a James Brown concert with some Mexican friends of mine. I haven't had fun since. It's not a word I like. It's like Volkswagens or bell-bottoms, or patchouli oil or bean sprouts. It rubs me up the wrong way. I might go out and have an educational and entertaining evening, but I don't have fun."
  • "I like to walk out of a diner with enough gas to open a Mobil station."
  • "I was born in the back seat of a Yellow Cab in a hospital loading zone and with the meter still running. I emerged needing a shave and shouted 'Time Square, and step on it!'"
  • In response to a heckler at his concert at Toronto's Massey Hall in the late 1980's who complained that he could not hear Waits, he replied: "I haven't screamed as much since the pigs ate my baby brother!"
  • Apparently the highest compliment our culture grants artists nowadays is to be in an ad — ideally naked and purring on the hood of a new car . I have adamantly and repeatedly refused this dubious honor.
  • Opening gambit to audience at the Hammersmith Apollo (London) 23/11/2004: "I know, I know, 17 years... but you look great."

Quotes About Tom Waits

  • "When he performs, it sounds as if the world has stopped at 2 A.M." - Dinah Shore
  • "I always wondered how Tom Waits would sing 'Greensleeves'...." --Loreena McKennitt, "The Visit"

Notes and references

External links

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