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Tom Waits's Quotes

Tom Waits profile photo

Born: 1949-12-07
Profession: Musician
Nation: American
Biography of Tom Waits

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Sometimes the magnetism of a song is impossible to ignore, and it demands that it be sung in a certain way.

Tags: Ignore, Impossible, Sometimes

The piano has been drinking, not me.

Tags: Drinking, Piano

You hope people are going to be listening to you after you're gone. And they like you better after you're gone.

Tags: After, Gone, Hope

All records are riddles, and whatever you may want people to think it's about, it may just be throwing them off. And you don't want it to get in the way of what someone else's understanding is. It's not really about anything. At the same time, it will find some meaning.

Tags: May, Someone, Time

But then I'm one of those guys that is still a bit afraid of the telephone, its implications for conversation. I still wonder if the jukebox might be the death of live music.

Tags: Afraid, Death, Music

Songs really are like a form of time travel because they really have moved forward in a bubble. Everyone who's connected with it, the studio's gone, the musicians are gone, and the only thing that's left is this recording which was only about a three-minute period maybe 70 years ago.

Tags: Forward, Time, Travel

Most songs have meager beginnings. You wake up in the morning, you throw on your suspenders, and you subvocalize and just think. They seem to form like calcium. I can't think of a story right off the bat that was that interesting. I write things on the back of my hand, usually, and sing into a tape recorder.

Tags: Morning, Off, Write

The blues is like a planet. It's an enormous topic. You can't ignore the impact that it has had and continues to have on the whole musical culture. It's a tree that everyone is swinging from. Without it, I don't know where I would be. It's indelible and indispensable.

Tags: Everyone, Ignore, Whole

The sight of the first woman in the minimal two-piece was as explosive as the detonation of the atomic bomb by the U.S. at Bikini Island in the Marshall Isles, hence the naming of the bikini.

Tags: Island, Sight, Woman

What you want is for music to love you back. That's why you pay your dues. You want to feel like you belong and are part of this symbiosis, metamorphosis, whatever you want to call it.

Tags: Love, Music, Why

You almost have to create situations in order to write about them, so I live in a constant state of self-imposed poverty. I don't want to live any other way.

Tags: Poverty, State, Write

You know when you throw a party, you think people will show up and no one will like each other. It's like that with music - parts of your musical psyche have never met other parts. You wonder if you should get them together.

Tags: Music, Show, Together

Champagne for my real friends and real pain for my sham friends.

Tags: Friends, Pain, Real

George Bush is a fan of mine, he came to see me in the Seventies. His coke dealer brought him.

Tags: Fan, Him, Mine

Don't you know there ain't no devil, it's just god when he's drunk.

Tags: Devil, Drunk, God

I'm so horny the crack of dawn better watch out.

Tags: Dawn, Horny, Watch

I'd rather have a free bottle in front of me than a prefrontal lobotomy.

Tags: Free, Front, Rather

I always liked the idea that America is a big facade. We are all insects crawling across on the shiny hood of a Cadillac. We're all looking at the wrapping. But we won't tear the wrapping to see what lies beneath.

Tags: America, Big, Idea

For a songwriter, you don't really go to songwriting school; you learn by listening to tunes. And you try to understand them and take them apart and see what they're made of, and wonder if you can make one, too.

Tags: School, Try, Understand

Their memory's like a train: you can see it getting smaller as it pulls away And the things you can't remember Tell the things you can't forget that History puts a saint in every dream.

Tags: Forget, History, Remember

The big print giveth and the small print taketh away.

Tags: Away, Big, Small

I think all songs should have weather in them. Names of towns and streets, and they should have a couple of sailors. I think those are just song prerequisites.

Tags: Song, Songs, Weather

I guess I've always lived upside down when I want things I can't have.

Tags: Guess, Lived, Upside
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I hate Disneyland. It primes our kids for Las Vegas.

Tags: Hate, Kids, Vegas

It's hard to win when you always lose.

Tags: Hard, Lose, Win

I do like books on anatomy. I have to say I'm an amateur physician, I guess.

Tags: Anatomy, Books, Guess

My reality needs imagination like a bulb needs a socket. My imagination needs reality like a blind man needs a cane.

Tags: Blind, Needs, Reality

Most people don't care if you're telling them the truth or if you're telling them a lie, as long as they're entertained by it.

Tags: Care, Lie, Truth

I saw a crow building a nest, I was watching him very carefully, I was kind of stalking him and he was aware of it. And you know what they do when they become aware of someone stalking them when they build a nest, which is a very vulnerable place to be? They build a decoy nest. It's just for you.

Tags: Become, Him, Someone

Don't look back, because someone might be gaining on you.

Tags: Gaining, Might, Someone

Most songs that aren't jump-rope songs, or lullabies, are cautionary tales or goodbye songs and road songs.

Tags: Goodbye, Road, Songs

As a kid, I did want to be an old-timer, since they were the ones with the big stories and the cool clothes. I wanted to go there. Now, I guess I want to bring that with me and go back in time.

Tags: Big, Cool, Time

You know what I really love? The CD players in a car. How when you put the CD right up by the slot, it actually takes it out of your hand, like it's hungry. It pulls it in, and you feel like it wants more silver discs.

Tags: Car, Love, Put

Any place is good for eavesdropping, if you know how to eavesdrop.

Tags: Eavesdrop, Good, Place

George Burns was a Vaudeville performer I particularly loved.

Tags: Loved, Performer, Vaudeville

I'm just trying to make a buck like everyone else.

Tags: Else, Everyone, Trying

Music has generally involved a lot of awkward contraptions, a certain amount of heavy lifting.

Tags: Awkward, Involved, Music