Here’s a recent realization of mine. I don’t really listen to music anymore. I watch music. And I’m not talking about VH1 or any of the many incarnations of MTV. I’m talking about YouTube. Never before has there been a visual music collection so vast, and it’s with this thought in mind that we introduce this new weekly segment, where our writers will share some of their favorite live performances, many of which wouldn’t be available if not for the sharing mentality of the internet era. Thanks to YouTube, sometimes the best seat to catch the show in is your computer chair.
I have a large treasure trove of Tom Waits songs favorited, and “On the Nickel” might be my favorite of them all. This song can be found on Waits’ brilliant 1980 album, Heart Attack and Vine. Waits is in a transitional period here. His piano crooning days are ending, but he hasn’t quite made that leap yet to the experimental sounds found on Rain Dogs and later albums. This video comes from a live performance taped for UK television.
Like most of you, I won’t be able to see Mr. Waits live this summer. I didn’t have the time or money to even think about entering into the fray of the Ticketmaster lottery that decides who goes and who stays home. So if Tom’s constellation-based touring itinerary bypasses you altogether by several hundred miles and his ticket price-about eighty bucks before charges-is about eighty bucks out of your price range, or even if you were just unlucky and failed to score a seat, this is for you.
Tom Waits – “On the Nickel”