Friday, March 27, 2009

The Majestic Lyricism of Tom Waits: Real Gone

Tom Waits; a man a myth, a living legend, a poet, an artist, an oddball, an actor, a composer, a storyteller, a lyricist, a hero, a performer. Mr. Waits has composed many an album dating back to 1973's Closing Time on Asylum Records. (Discography) In my humble opinion Tom Waits songwriting has matured IMMENSELY since his debut! Granted there are plenty of folks out there who adore Waits slow melancholy ballads of old, to each their own. It is impressive in its own right and I DO respect it. I just personally don't find it particularly interesting to listen to. That's just me though.

I find Waits albums of late FAR more fulfilling, interesting and listenable, i.e. Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs, Bone Machine, Mule Variations, and of course Real Gone. Each of these majestic works has a raunchy grit that you couldn't remove with a ten gallon drum of industrial grade bleach. The magnificent simplicity and edgyness of songs like; 16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought-Six, Tango Till They're Sore, Big Black Mariah, Gun Street Girl, Hang on St. Christopher, Jesus Gonna Be Here, Goin' Out West, Filipino Box Spring Hog, God's Away on Business, Hoist That Rag and Make It Rain all get under your skin and make you itch uncontrollably for more.

To me there is just something about hearing/creating such a simple/minimal composition and having it be so very powerful yet complex. For example, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf and Bo Didley could all play/write/perform fantastic compositions using a very minimal amount of variety in structure but it just sounded right and still does today.

We now come to the majestic masterpiece album released in the year 2004, Real Gone. As I have clearly mentioned above, I am not a fan of Tom Waits melancholy compositions of old, but greatly prefer the raw, gritty, primitive pieces of the mid 90's to the present. I think that there is just so much more passion, raw emotion and a somewhat animalistic feel that is so simple and captivating.

One interesting fact about this particular album is that it is the first one where Waits does not play piano on it. He does however experiment in the art of beatboxing, looping, sampling and turntables. Waits has his typical all-star cast of players with him including Les Claypool and Brain of Primus, Marc Ribot, Larry Taylor of Canned Heat and his multi-talented son Casey on the turntables, drums and percussion.


  • Brain – percussion, claps
  • Les Claypool – bass
  • Harry Cody – guitar, banjo
  • Mark Howard – bells, claps
  • Marc Ribot – guitar, banjo, cigar box banjo
  • Larry Taylor – bass, guitar
  • Casey Waits – drums, turntables, percussion, claps
  • Tom Waits – vocals, guitar, chamberlain, percussion, shakers
  • Trisha Wilson – claps

The Music

On to the lyrics....

Here are my hand picked favorite lyrics/phrases from the album Real Gone. Hope you feel inspired and enjoy each and every one of them.

Top of the Hill:

  • The birds keep singing baby after you're dead.
  • Why don't you come up here and see me sometime.
  • Have all the lights burned out in heaven again.
  • I'll never roll the number 7 again.
  • I'm made of bread and on a ocean of wine.
  • Hear all the birdies on the phone just fine.
  • We're gettin' married in the pouring rain.
  • What's your throttle made of? Is it money or bone?
  • Opium, fireworks, vodka and meat, scoot over and save me a seat.
  • Why doncha gimme 'nother sip o' your cup? Turn a Rolls - Royce into a chicken coup.

Hoist That Rag:

  • God used me as hammer boys, To beat his weary drum today.
  • The smell of blood, The drone of flies. You know what to do if the baby cries.
  • Well we'll stick our fingers in the ground, heave and turn the world around.
  • Smoke is blacking out the sun, tonight I pray and clean my gun.
  • The cracked bell rings as the ghost bird sings and the gods go beggin here.
  • So just open fire as you hit the shore. All is fair in love and war.

Sins of my Father:

  • Night is falling like a bloody axe.
  • Will the pawn shop sell me back what I sold.
  • I'm gonna take the sins of my father. I'm gonna take the sins of my mother. I"m gonna take the sins of my brother. Down to the pond.
  • Carving out a future with a gun and an axe.
  • I'm way beyond the gavel and the laws of man.
  • Smack dab in the middle of a dirty lie.
  • Justice wears suspenders and a powdered wig.
  • Does the light of god blind you or lead the way home for you?
  • All my belongings in a flour sack. Will the place I come from take me back?
  • Jesus of Nazareth told Mike of the weeds.
  • Everything I done is between God and me.
  • Only he will judge how my time was spent.
  • 29 days of sinning and 40 to repent.
  • Wicked are the branches on the tree of mankind.

Shake It:

  • I never been no good at staying out of jail.
  • You know I feel like a preacher waving a gun around.
  • Outside, it's damp, put a towel on that lamp.

Don't Go Into That Barn:

  • Don't go into that barn, yeah.
  • Black cellophane sky at midnight.
  • Big blue moon with three gold rings.
  • That's where I heard my name in a scream coming from the woods, out there.
  • I let my dog run off the chain, I locked my door real good with a chair.
  • Cause he's high on potato and tulip wine, Fermented in the muddy rain of course.
  • An old black tree, scratching up the sky, with bony claw like fingers.
  • And the sun sank down into the much of a deep dead sky.
  • They found the fallen down timbers of a spooky old barn.
  • Out there like a slave ship, upside down.
  • Wrecked beneath the waves of a rain, when the river is low.
  • They find old bones and when they plow they always dig up chains.
  • Did you bury your fire?
Yes sir
Did you cover your tracks?
Yes sir
Did you bring your knife?
Yes sir
Did they see your face?
No sir
Did the Moon see you?
No sir
Did you go cross the river?
Yes sir
Did you fix your rake?
Yes sir
Did you stay down wind?
Yes sir
Did you hide your gun?
Yes sir
Did you smuggle your rum?
Yes sir
How did I know, How did I know, How did I know

How's It Gonna End?:

  • She wrote good bye in the dust on the hood.
  • They found a a map of Missouri lipstick on the glass, they must of left in the middle of the night.
  • And I want to know the same thing everyone wants to know, how it going to end?
  • A tree born crooked will never grow straight, she sunk like a hammer in to the lake.
  • Promises are never meant to keep.
  • The moon climbed up an empty sky.
  • There's a killer and he's coming through the rye. But maybe he's the Father of that lost little girl, it's hard to tell in this light.
  • Wishing for it only makes it bleed.
  • It's last call somewhere in the world.
  • Life is sweet at the edge of a razor.
  • And down in the front row of an old picture show, the old man is asleep as the credits start to roll.

Metropolitan Glide:

  • 29 gypsies in a Cadillac stoned.
  • Turn off the ringer on your cellular phone.
  • You kill me with your machine gun laugh.
  • Put on your stockings and your powder and blush. Keep it all on the hush, hush, hush.

Dead & Lovely:

  • He had a bulletproof smile.
  • She thought she had the moon in her pocket.
  • I've always been told to remember this... "Don't let a fool kiss you, never marry for love."
  • He was hard to impress, he knew everyone's secrets.
  • He wore her on his arm, just like jewelry.
  • He's not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at.
  • What's more romantic than dying in the moonlight?


  • And the branches spread like scary fingers reaching.
  • I was soakin' wet and wild eyed.
  • She had a tattoo gun made out of a cassette motor and a guitar string.
  • I'd like to hammer this ring into a bullet and I wish I had some whiskey and a gun my dear.

Trampled Rose:

  • Sky's the autumn grey of a lonely wren.
  • What I done to me, I done to you.
  • What happened to the trampled rose?
  • I know that rose like I know my name.

Green Grass:

  • Lay your head where my heart used to be.
  • Remember when you loved me?
  • Think of me as a train goes by.
  • Can't tell the birds from the blossoms.
  • And if the sky falls, mark my words, we'll catch mocking birds.

Baby Gonna Leave Me:

  • My baby ripped my heart out with every turn of the moon.
  • Somebody told me, "There's never been a rose without a thorn."
  • And if I was a bed I'd be an unmade bed.

Make it Rain:

  • She took all my money and my best friend.
  • I have no pride I have no shame. You gotta make it rain.
  • I'm just another sad guest on this dark earth.
  • I want to believe in the mercy of the world again.
  • I need the whip of thunder and the winds dark moan.
  • I'm not Able, I'm just Cain. Open up the heavens, Make it rain.
  • They sharpen their knives on my mistakes.
  • What she done, you can't give it a name.
  • Without her love, without your kiss. Hell can't burn me more than this.
  • It's the same old world but nothing looks the same.

Day After Tomorrow:

  • I still believe that there's gold at the end of the world.
  • What I'm trying to say, is don't they pray to the same God that we do? Tell me, how does God choose? Whose prayers does he refuse?

A Great Review:

From Coke Machine Glow

Friday, March 20, 2009

VST Plugins for Your Aural Pleasure: Glitch

Glitch Effects:

If you are into the world of creating digital music with programs such as Ableton Live, Steinberg Cubase, Nuendo, Cakewalk, Garage Band etc., etc. it's no doubt that you are aware of the powerful virtual tools and instruments know as VST's and VSTi's.

VST is an acronym for Virtual Studio Technology.
Wiki Page

Here I have compiled some of my favorite free VST's that I have collected over years and would like to share with you. I hope you use them wisely and to their greatest capability because the possibilities are truly endless!


PDF Manual

Glitch chops up your audio in real-time and applies a variety of effects which can either be chosen at random, manually sequenced, or a mixture of both. The sounds it generates range from quite subtle to extremely bizarre, depending on how much you tweak the controls.
Based on the stretcher effect found in Glitch, but with a few extra parameters and a wider range of functionality.
(There is no real GUI for this one so I just took a screen shot)
Very simple “tape stop” effect with adjustable speed.
(There is no real GUI for this one so I just took a screen shot)
A fairly typical lofi/bitcrusher effect with an interesting inverted smoothing mode that can create some rather nice sounds.
(There is no real GUI for this one so I just took a screen shot)
A buffer-sampling, stuttering glitchbox in the tradition of DFX's Buffer override. It features integrated modulation LFOs, XY pad and a useless-but-cool-looking wave scope.

  • arcDev.Hosebeast.v1.0
The mother of glitch-noise-monsters, HBeast is a 5-part parallel processing speaker-endangering multicrapfx shredder. Features assorted colours, (almost) too-hard-to-read gui and bad attitude.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Synchronized electric face stimulus music


Daito Manabe used a system that converts music to electrical impulses and wired up his friends' faces to twitch in time to the song. (via Pink Tentacle)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

EKS Otus DJ controller


The EKS "Otus" is billed as the "World's most comfortable DJ controller", with a full complement of remappable knobs, buttons, and touch-sensitive sliders. It's certainly not the ugliest bit of gear I've ever seen, although someone with any experience with live mixing might be more able to tell you if it's of any practical use. The Otus is $900, available soon at North American music retailers or right now at

Analogs: Joel Scilley's "Audiowood" turntables


Joel Scilley is a thinking man's carpenter, having grabbed an MA from Carnegie Mellon and a PhD in media studies from Pitt before heading back to the Bay Area to make handcrafted turntables. Like you do.

Scilley makes some out of his "Audiowood" players out of burlwood that has a more organic feel. Others look more modern. Having grown up in the Ozarks, I'm somewhat inured to the charms of burlwood crafts, so I prefer the modern ones, but "Barky", the model below made from a cross-section of a trunk, it downright cute.

The Audiowood designs will be shown off in Oakland starting the 14th. [via Mocoloco]

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wurlitzer Factory Tour - 1950

Charles Shopsin is a New York City-raised and Brooklyn-based software developer. In his spare time, he runs the Modern Mechanix blog, waits tables, and finds new ways to torture his cat. His dream girl is Jordan from the movie Real Genius.

When I was a little kid I saw an episode of Mr. Rogers where he visited a factory that made canned vegetable soup. The soup was made in giant vats and the ingredients — peas, carrots and whatnot — were poured in from giant overhead buckets. Then they went on to the canning, labeling and packing lines. It was one of the coolest things I'd ever seen. I've been hooked on factory tours ever since.

I'm also a huge fan of ephemera and when you put the two together you get old factory tours. The best place I know of to find these is the online outpost of the Prelinger Library, hosted by I think I have watched almost every movie listed there and this week I'll be sharing a few of my favorites.

The video I'm linking to today is called "A Visit to Wurlitzer:" made in 1950, this film visits the factory that made Wurlitzer jukeboxes. Maybe not the most exciting video to watch but it is fascinating. Think about all of the buzzwords relating modern production: just-in-time logistics, outsourcing, off-the-shelf components, sub-contractors, and even automation. Now think of the opposite and you'll have some idea of what this factory was like.

Wood, plastic and metal go in one end, and jukeboxes come out the other. They make pretty much everything on site. There are chemists who develop and produce the varnishes, machinists who make the tools, and a sharpening room. They even make their own plywood. Because they produce pretty much everything from the cabinet to the smallest circuit on their assembly line, the schematics for a single jukebox cover 300,000 square feet of blueprint.

It's a stunning example of the change the manufacturing industry has gone through in the last 60 years. Apple is one of the biggest electronics companies in America and I don't think they actually own a single factory.

Skip to about 6 minutes in if you just want to see the tour and not a history of Wurlitzer.

Link (Part I, Part II)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Drum-machine-fist -- Boing Boing Gadgets


British university boasts first Beatles degree

Tue Mar 3, 2009 3:46pm EST

LONDON (Reuters) - A university in Liverpool has launched a Master of Arts degree in The Beatles, the city's most famous sons, and called the qualification the first of its kind.

Liverpool Hope University says on its website that the course entitled "The Beatles, Popular Music and Society" consists of four 12-week taught modules and a dissertation.

"There have been over 8,000 books about The Beatles but there has never been serious academic study and that is what we are going to address," said Mike Brocken, senior lecturer in popular music at Hope.

"Forty years on from their break-up, now is the right time and Liverpool is the right place to study The Beatles.

"This MA is expected to attract a great deal of attention, not just locally but nationally and we have already had enquiries from abroad, particularly the United States."

The university said it was the first postgraduate taught course on The Beatles in the United Kingdom, and possibly the world.

The Fab Four were born and raised in Liverpool and went on to become arguably the most successful pop band of all time.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Daft Punk Scores TR2N Soundtrack

March 04, 2009 02:41 PM ET
David J. Prince, N.Y.

Daft Punk, the French electronica duo known for their robot personas, have been tapped by Walt Disney Pictures to compose the score for "TR2N", an update of the studio's 1982 science fiction classic "Tron", Billboard has confirmed.

The film, currently in production, is tentatively scheduled for a 2011 release.

The "TR2N" score marks Daft Punk's first foray into the studio since 2005's "Human After All." After an extended hiatus, the duo reemerged in 2007 for an extensive world tour, spawning the Grammy-wining live set "Alive 2007." The group's 2001 track "Harder Better Faster Stronger" was adapted by Kanye West for his single "Stronger," and the pair appeared on the 2008 Grammy Awards with the rapper.

The musicians, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter split their time between Paris and Los Angeles, where they have have assembled a new recording studio for the TR2N project.

Daft Punk have worked in film before, most notably as directors of their feature "Electroma," although that film used none of the group's own music. As Banglater explained to Billboard in 2007 about the pair's next musical project, "The cool thing is that we're always trying to do something that hasn't been done, or ultimately, that we aren't doing ourselves yet. It is challenging to get back in the studio and work with ideas we haven't expressed before. Some ideas take time, but some just take a few weeks, so we'll see."

The original film, which pioneered the use of computer graphics, was scored by Wendy Carlos, an electronic musician and composer whose "Switched on Bach" album was one of the first to highlight the Moog synthesizer as a musical instrument.

Mikael Carlsson comments:
March 05, 2009
Cool. And here is the actual origin of this scoop: :-)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Software reveals drummers who used click tracks


Because it's much easier to hack music that has a perfectly even tempo, drummers often use a click track to make life easy for producers and remixers. Coder and music technologist Paul Lamere developed a program that plots the deviations of a drumbeat from its own overall tempo, which tells us who brings a metronome to the studio, and who just lets fly.

I’ve always been curious about which drummers use a click track and which don’t, so I thought it might be fun to try to build a click track detector using the Echo Nest remix SDK ( remix is a Python library that allows you to analyze and manipulate music). ... I averaged the beat durations over a short window, and the resulting plot was quite good.

That wild blue line is, of course, John Bonham.

In search of the click track [Music Machinery]

Video: The Mentalists cover MGMT rather awkwardly on iPhones and iPod Touch


Using Ocarina, Retro Synth, miniSynth, and DigiDrummer Lite, an all-girl UK band covers that one MGMT song about the family of trees. It sounds okay, but it seems like they're slogging through it just so they can provide the background music to a boutique opening or something.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009