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The definitive biography of a notoriously private performer - the most up-close, comprehensive and affectionate book on Tom Waits.
Spanning Tom Waits' extraordinary 40 year career, from Closing Time to Orphans, Lowside of the Road is barney Hoskyns' unique take on one of rock's great enigmas. Like Bob Dylan and Neil Young, Waits is a chameleonic survivor who's achieved long-term success while retaining cult credibility and outsider mystique. From his perilous 'jazzbo' years in 70s Los Angeles to the multiple-Grammy winner of recent years - by way of such shape shifting '80s albums as Swordfishtrombones - this exhaustive biography charts Waits' life step-by-step and album-by-album.
Affectionate and penetrating, and based on a combination of assiduous research and deep critical insight, this is an outstanding investigation of a notoriously private artist and performer - the definitive account to date of Tom Waits' life and work.
About Barney Hoskyns
Barney Hoskyns is the co-founder and editorial director of online rock-journalism library Rock's Backpages (www.rocksbackpages.com), and author of several books including Across the Great Divide: The Band and America (1993), Waiting for the Sun: Strange Days, Weird Scenes, and the Sound of Los Angeles (1996), and Hotel California: Singer-Songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the LA Canyons (2005). A former US correspondent for MOJO, Hoskyns writes for Uncut, The Observer Music Monthly and other UK publications, and has contributed to Vogue, Rolling Stone and GQ. He lives in southwest London.
The bard of musical lowlife receives a sometimes ill-tempered biography.British music journalist Hoskyns has long been an astute chronicler of Los Angeles rock; Hotel California (2006) briefly surveyed Waits's early work in the context of the '70s L.A. singer-songwriter scene. Here the author takes an expansive unauthorized look at Waits's life and career. Hoskyns offers a well-delineated picture of the artist's formative years in the Southern California towns of Whittier and San Diego, where his infatuation with Beat literature and old-school pop and jazz led to what the author calls "round-the-clock performance art" - the formulation of the musician's anachronistic, finger-popping, prematurely grizzled stage persona. Hoskyns is at his best in amply reported chapters recalling Waits's first flush of fame in Los Angeles as a gutter-crawling, melody-spinning boho poet. Witnesses include his producer Bones Howe and several intimates at the West Hollywood Troubadour club - though not, regrettably, early flame Rickie Lee Jones. The book grows less rewarding after Waits's wife and creative partner Kathleen Brennan enters the picture. Hoskyns plainly lacks any abiding interest in the more experimental, cacophonous recordings that commenced in 1983 with Swordfishtrombones. The latter part of his account, which leans heavily on secondary sources, devolves into wearying, infrequently edifying laundry lists of album tracks, theatrical projects (mostly with Robert Wilson) and movie roles. The writer also encountered difficulty in enlisting cooperation from friends and musical associates of the privacy-loving Waits, and he loudly grinds his axe by including an appendix of several e-mails declining his interview requests. By the end, Hoskyns's tone has turned peevish, and his admiration for Waits's oddly beautiful, envelope-pushing music is eclipsed by his journalistic frustration.Worth it for the informative first half, but not the comprehensive assessment that Waits's artistry deserves. (Kirkus Reviews)
Published: May 2009
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.5 x 4.7
Weight (kg): 0.822