Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable and precise source for any quote on this list please move it to Tom Waits.
- 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 you...you'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."
- Chatting between songs with audience, Edinburgh Playhouse, 27/07/08: "It's only been 23 years, jesus. (Comic pause) Oh you know, the usual."
- Champagne for my real friends and real pain for my sham friends.
- Used as early as 1860, in the book The Perfect Gentleman. Famously used by Anglo-Irish painter Francis Bacon. See Jeffrey Bernard, Low Life, Pan, 1987.
Quotes About Tom Waits (unsourced)
- "When he performs, it sounds as if the world has stopped at 2 A.M." - Dinah Shore