Tom Waits

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Thomas Alan Waits (born 7 December 1949) American composer, singer, songwriter, musician and actor.


  • If I exorcise my devils, well, my angels may leave too.
    • "Please Call Me, Baby", The Heart of Saturday Night (1974).
  • And sometime around 2 AM you end up taking advantage of yourself. Ain't no way around that. Making a scene with a magazine.
    • Nighthawks at the Diner (1975).
  • Don't you know there ain't no devil, there's just God when he's drunk.
    • "Heartattack and Vine", Heartattack and Vine (1980).
  • I know a place where a royal flush can never beat a pair, and even Thomas Jefferson is On The Nickel over there.
    • "On The Nickel", Heartattack and Vine (1980).
  • How do the angels get to sleep / When the Devil leaves his porch light on?
    • "Mr. Siegal", Heartattack and Vine (1980).
  • I'm so goddamn horny, the crack of dawn better be careful around me!
    • Nighthawks at the Diner (1975).
  • Your veal cutlet gets up off the plate, It walks down to end of the counter and beat the shit out of my cup of coffee. I guess the coffee just wasn't strong enough to defend itself.
    • Nighthawks at the Diner (1975).
  • I don't have a drinking problem ‘cept when I can't get a drink.
    • "Bad Liver and a Broken Heart", Small Change (1976).
  • And the things you can’t remember tell the things you can forget, that history puts a saint in every dream.
    • "Time", Rain Dogs (1985).
  • The piano has been drinking, not me.
    • "The Piano Has Been Drinking", Small Change (1976).
  • If there's one thing you can say about mankind, there's nothing kind about man.
    • "Misery is the River of the World", Blood Money (2002).
  • What's he building in there? We have a right to know.
    • "What's He Building in There", Mule Variations (1999).
  • Come down off the cross, we can use the wood.
    • "Come On Up To The House", Mule Variations (1999).
  • And someone will head south 'til this whole thing cools off.
    • "Small Change", Small Change (1976).
  • And their mouths are cut like razor blades, and their eyes are like stilettos, and her radiator's steaming and her teeth are in a wreck, she won't let you kiss her, but what in the hell do you expect?
    • "Small Change", Small Change (1976).
  • If you get far enough away you'll be on your way back home.
    • "Blind Love", Rain Dogs (1985).
  • The large print giveth and the small print taketh away.
    • "Step Right Up", Small Change (1976).
  • Some men are searching for the Holy Grail, but there ain't nothing sweeter than riding the rail.
  • Pregnant women and Vietnam vets, beggin on the freeway, bout as hard as it gets.
    • "Cold Water", Mule Variations (1999).
  • Well, you know when you're the opening act for large groups? Sometimes you feel like a rectal thermometer, you're going out there taking the temperature of the audience.
  • "Our Father, who art in Cribari, hallowed be thy glass. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in the lounges. Give us this day our daily splash, and forgive us our hangovers as we forgive those who continue to hangover against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil...and somebody give us all a ride home."
    • The live recording of "The Piano Has Been Drinking", "Bounced Checks" (1981).
  • "Disneyland is Vegas for children. When I went with the kids, I just about had a stroke. It's the opposite of what they say it is. It's not a place to nurture the imagination. It's just a big clearance sale for useless items. I'm not going back, and the kids won't be allowed to return until they're eighteen, out of the house. And even then, I would block their decision."
    • Playboy 20 Questions, March 1988.
  • (When asked for advice for younger musicians) "Break windows, smoke cigars, and stay up late. Tell 'em to do that, they'll find a little pot of gold."
    • Musician magazine, October 1987.
  • The dog won't bite if you beat Him with a bone
    • "Lowside of the Road", Mule Variations (1999).
  • "She's been married so many times she's got rice marks all over her face"
    • Nighthawks at the Diner (1975).
  • I collaborate with my wife on the songs, and every aspect of it, really— composing, and arranging, and recording, all that business. We have a rhythm and a way of working it. It's kind of like borrowing the same ten bucks from somebody over and over again. But when you live together, it makes it a lot easier, the pay back.
  • The world is a hellish place, and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering. It cheapens and degrades the human experience, when it should inspire and elevate.
    • Interviewed by J. T. LeRoy, "Strange Innocence," Vanity Fair, July 2001
  • We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness....We are monkeys with money and guns.
    • Interview All Songs Considered, NPR, May 20, 2008

Quotes About Tom Waits

  • "I always wondered how Tom Waits would sing 'Greensleeves'...." --Loreena McKennitt, "The Visit".
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