Is it possible to detect the meaning of a song from its sound? And what if the song is written by Tom Waits? Growing up as a non-English speaker, I always preferred sound to lyrics and in most cases I was able to detect the theme in a song from the quality of its sound. That was possible until the day I discovered Bone Machine (1992). With its inaccessible sound, the record was an education to a different approach in song-writing.
With this article I examine how since the 80s Tom Waits has embraced a radical approach to the creation of a song. A certain physical process is involved in nailing down a tune and building its sound in a minimalist fashion. Upon digesting and accepting this different way of making music, the listener can finally attempt to make sense of a Tom Waits’s song without using its lyrics. And the cracks in the sound can reveal unexpected stories.
Read Adriano’s full piece HERE