Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Freaks, Geeks and Other Human Oddities


Tom Waits has spun a tangled web of yarns unlike any other singer/songwriter, in a career that spans four decades and two-dozen albums. Along his twisted, idiosyncratic journey through L.A.’s dingy piano bars, into the red-light districts of German cabarets, over the rusty chain-link fences of roots music junkyards, and into a howling din of some post-apocalyptic carnival, Waits has introduced us to a motley crew of unforgettable characters. On October 24, Tom Waits releases his first studio album in seven years with Bad As Me, and to celebrate the occasion, I thought I’d dig through the dusty stacks of Tom’s old songs and gather the assorted, often colorfully named characters he’s given life to over the years. What follows is a list of people who haunt his songs. Not everyone’s been included, but most of them are here, together in one place for the first time—grouped by theme, occupation, physical exploit, title, etc. So without further adieu, "Ladies and gentleman, under the Big Top tonight, Human Oddities!"

William the Pleaser, Dave the Butcher, Blind Bob the Raccoon, Reba the Loon, Slam the Crank, Jo Jo the Dog Face Boy, KoKo the Bird Girl, Sealo the Seal Boy, Gyp the Blood, Lea Graif the German midget who sat in J.P. Morgan’s lap, Zuzu Bolin, Molly Hoey, George Schmid, Montclaire de Havelin, Zenora Bariella, Coriander Pyle, Evelyn James, Everett Lee, Joel Tornabene, Whitfield Faraday, Edna Millions, Scullion Childs, Eddie Grace, Melanie Jane, Bobby Goodmanson, Charlie DeLisle, Dicky Faulkner, Milton Malone, Shane Mahoney, Joey Navinski, Ronnie Arnold, Paul Body, Bill Bones, Red Pants, Pale Face, Ice Man, Black Rider, Eyeball Kid, Rosie, Charlie, Frank, Nash, Alice, Monk, Hans, Cath, Kathleen, Jezebel, Marie, Martha, Muriel, Matilda, Lucinda, Wilhelm, Willard, Miss Kelsey, Mr. Henry, Mr. Siegal, Mister Sorrow, Mrs. Carroll, Mrs. Strom, Mr. Knickerbocker, Mr. Weiss, Mr. Brown, Philly Joe Remarkable, Peoria Johnson, Saginaw Calinda, Georgia Lee, Dudlow Joe, Jockey La Fayette, Mike of the Weeds, Little Joe from Kokomo, Satchel Pudding, Lord God Mose, Golden Willie, Panther Marten, Bird Lundy, Chun King, Father Cribari, Captain Charon, Reverend Judd, Doctor Bliss, Doctor George Fishbeck, Horse Face Ethel, Poodle Murphy, Piggy Knowles, Birdy Joe Hoaks, Scarface Ron, Graveyard John, Funeral Wells, Bowlegged Sal, One Eyed Myra, Big Eyed Al, Tabletop Joe, Humpty Jackson, Knocky Parker, Buzz Fledderjohn, Falling James, Yodeling Elaine, Bum Mahoney, Golden Willie, Dutch Pink, Punk Sander, Tip Little, Dot King, Vic Rail, Peg Leg, Bill Bones, Boney, Shorty, Mighty Tiny, Poor Edward, Jack Chance, Jessey Frank, Aunt Mame, Uncle Emmet, Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Vernon, Dan Steel, Johnny Eck, Johnny O’Toole, Louie Lista, Robert Sheehan, Martin Eden, Grady Tuck, Abdel Madi Shabneh, Spidey, Cora Belle Lee, Grace McDaniels, Gerd Bessler, Mortando, Big Mambo, Big John Jizzum, Big Bull Trometer, Big Joe, Big Black Mariah, Big Black Ford, Big Black Johnny, Little Son Jackson, Lil’ Caesar, Old Brown Betty, Old Widow Jones, Old Blind Darby, Blind Jack Dawes, Blackjack Ruby, Nimrod Cain.

1 comment:

Benjamin James Wilson said...

"Lea Graif the German midget who sat in J.P. Morgan’s lap" Holy smokes, what is that from? I've flirted with Waits fandom in the past, but have never committed. I think it's the ballads that turned me off a bit. I do like the [bing bong] (choose one: "Fire" "Drunk" "Dwarf" "Raaawwwrrr!") material though.