Tom Waits – Sleazy Rider (Relix Revisited)
“You also got into trouble for singing your “Small Change” song when you said, ‘And the whores still smear on Revlon and they all look like Jayne Meadows,’ When you recorded it, you changed it to, ‘But the whores still hike up their skirts and search for drug store prophylactics.’”
I deleted the Jayne Meadows reference from the album ‘cause Steve Allen (her husand) would have been upset. You can use a personality’s name in a song but not if it’s slanderous. If you say that all the whores look like Jayne Meadows, regardless of whether they look like her or not you can’t say that…’cause the whores’ll get pissed off.
“On your newest album, Foreign Affairs, you do a duet with Bette Midler which is also on her album. How did that come about?”
Bette’s a friend of mine. She asked me to write her a song so I wrote “I Never Talk to Strangers.” She likes those old songs like, “Baby It’s Cold Outsdie,” so I decided to write something that sounds like a standard.
Bette and I played at the human rights rally last year at the Hollywood Bowl. She told me it’d be a good idea and that I’d go on right before her. It didn’t sound that bad but I was lucky to get out of there with my Johnson. The whole evening was a powder keg to begin with—playing for 25,000 militant homos. After Richard Pryor started, she gave him the finger and I was left holding the bag, if you will.
“I get the impression you’re very apolitical.”
I was raided a Methodist. What’s that mean? I read the papers but I don’t vote; I travel all the time.
“How did you stay out of the Draft?”
I just didn’t go. I was working. I went up for a physical and talked to the psychiatrist. I was 1-A for a long time and that’s the last I heard of it.
“Would you have made a good soldier?”
What do you think? I’d want to go straight to the top. I think I’d make a good drill sergeant.
“How did you avoid getting mixed up with the Peace, Love, and Dope scene in the 60s?”
I was kinda square, I guess. Every dog has his day. It used to be a lone cat could be content with a couple Blue Cheer albums and a bag of reefer and a couple blankets and some friends who wore boots. I think we’re in the midst of a national gender crisis. And then there’s a lotta cosmic debris, too. The public’s extremely gullible. If you pay $2,000 to have someone call you an asshole, you are an asshole. I’m not that expensive.
“Do you have any pets?”
I had a dog once, but he died, I barbecued him. We never had enough room for livestock. I used to have a couple stray cats. Tom cats. I’d go on the road and come back and they’d always be pissed at me. I wouldn’t give ‘em anything to eat; I’d give ‘em money, you know, and tell ‘em to eat out. If you don’t feed a cat for a year, they get reeeeeeeeal smaaaaaaaall.
I’m real concerned about personal hygiene and I don’t think it’s good to have animals in the house. The first cat I had I shaved bald and bought him a little sport coat and little hat and told him to go out and get a job if he wants to stay. His name was Get Off the Sofa.
“What was your youth like?”
My parents split up when I was young so I kinda took care of my mother and sisters. I started working when I was 14. I drove taxis, sold vacuum cleaners and encyclopedias, worked in gas stations and liquor stores, and had a paper route. I sold night crawlers to fisherman—you can buy live worms in the mail, you know. I dropped out of high school when I was 17. When I was about 19 I started songwriting and then a year later I was performing, and all self-taught. My parents support what I do. My mother was real pleased that I got a page in Time. My father thinks I’m a chip off the ol’ block. I think so too. Absolutely. He’s an old codger.
“Do you want to be an old man some day? It seems you’re following the James Dean ‘live fast, die young script.”
[Hacking and mumbling gibberish like a burn-out gaffer] I want to be an old man. I’ll look up skirts and stuff, but I don’t want to get the palsy or anything. I’d like to have some children. I’ll probably adopt a bunch of Mexicans and live out in Pico Ribera and watch a black and white TV set with a T-shirts on and a beer in one hand and dogshit on the lawn.
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The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
Ron Sexsmith visits the Relix office to perform a tune from his latest record Forever Endeavor.
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