Re-listening Tom Waits and his “Mule Variations”

Tom Waits Praha 2008 01

On April 16 1999, Thomas Alan Waits (Tom Waits for friends) released his twelfth studio album, Mule Variations – one of the two albums that would bring him Grammy Awards (the other one would be Bone Machine).

Tom Waits is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor with a unique singing voice. By unique, I mean that he sounds like a circular saw. Not in a bad way of course. This multi-talented 69-year-old has left his mark on everything he did. He is primarily a musician, but he has proven himself as an actor too.

And the list of films he appeared in is quite impressive – Seven Psychopaths, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Wristcutters: A Love Story, Coffee and Cigarettes, Short Cuts, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Fisher King, Down by Law…

Back to the Mule Variations. The album was big critical and moderate commercial success, and in a nutshell, it presents a logical continuation of his previous album, The Black Rider. Songwriting is strong as always and slower songs really steal the show here.

As Pitchfork’s Zach Hooker said about the album: “It’s true that this is not Rain Dogs, Swordfishtrombones or even Frank’s Wild Years. But is it Tom Waits’ fault that people are so hung up on those particular albums?”, and without a shadow of a doubt: “Mule Variations is a great album, and that’s all there is to it.” Plain and simple. Mule Variations is a great continuation of Tom Waits’ new sound, and it’s more than obvious that he enjoyed in making this album.

We haven’t heard from Tom Waits since his 2011 album, Bad as Me. (Well, if we don’t count GoT’s actors Waits-in’ around.) Let’s hope it will change soon enough.

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