Downtown Train - Rain Dogs [123]

Back with Heath and Robert Sledge for Waits at his most earnest, in this pop ballad charmer. From the murderers row of musicians assembled, questions as to whether this is heartfelt or ironic and other “trainey” songs - it’s all here on this week’s Song by Song. 

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Downtown Train, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

Downtown Train music video, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (via YouTube) (1985)

Night Mail, Poem from GPO Film Unit documentary “Night Mail”, W.H. Auden/Benjamin Britten (1936)

Night Mail, Anthology of English Verse vol 2, W.H. Auden/John Laurie (1936/1961)

Night Mail, GPO Film Unit documentary (via YouTube) (1936)

Downtown Train, If We Fall In Love Tonight, Rod Stewart (1996)

Downtown Train, The Language Of Life, Everything But The Girl (1990)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Walking Spanish - Rain Dogs [122]

Our third track with Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer on Rain Dogs brings us to Waits’s paean to death row and an examination of our attitudes towards the incarcerated. We get to cover some more heartfelt religious allusions by Waits, as well as our tattoo histories and the intersection of hip-hop/trip-hop/brit-pop.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Walking Spanish, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

Black Steel, Maxinquaye, Tricky (1995)

Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, Public Enemy (1988)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Blind Love - Rain Dogs [121]

We welcome Heath and Robert Sledge to Song by Song for another Waits genre experiment, this time taking a detour from Rain Dogs’ New York location into a country and western style. This week we’re focussing on the influence of Keith Richards and the Rolling Stones on this album (and others), as well as some discussion around how far Waits is able to move into new musical and lyrical worlds.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Blind Love, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

I Just Want To See His Face, Exile On Main Street, The Rolling Stones (1972)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Union Square - Rain Dogs [120]

Back with Ross Sutherland, Sam and Martin talk about one of the most New York-centric tracks on this NY-themed album, with conversation on the speed of music as compared to its drive and pace, the presentation of underground culture in mainstream(ish) music, as well as the eccentricities of Lou Reed's dealer's wardrobe.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Union Square, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

I'm Waiting For The Man, The Velvet Underground and Nico, The Velvet Underground (1967)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Gun Street Girl - Rain Dogs [119]

Waits wanders back into the world of the criminal with this cautionary tale of life on the run. And who better to talk about what is Criminal than our guests from a fortnight ago Phoebe and Lauren. Avoiding any more discussion of freeform jazz concertos, Song by Song discusses some of the history of the Murder Ballad, the educational/control value of these stories, as well as continuing to catalogue which of Tom Waits songs you can dance to. (Spoiler: the "can't" list is a lot longer than the "can"…) 

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Gun Street Girl, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

Stack O’Lee, American Epic: Mississippi John Hurt, Mississippi John Hurt (1928/2017)

Stagger Lee, Murder Ballads, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (1996)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

9th & Hennepin - Rain Dogs [118]

Song by Song welcomes our latest guest host, Ross Sutherland of the Imaginary Advice podcast, to discuss some of the dense language in both this latest track from Rain Dogs as well as the very different Americana stylings of poet David Berman. Discussion ranges from the experience found in the process of creation, the distance that Waits creates in his writing perspectives and the value of a canned mojito on the night train back to Peterborough.

Please note that the text of the Berman poems can be found in the YouTube description linked below.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
9th & Hennepin, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

"Governors On Sominex" & "My Life at Home During Banking Hours", Actual Air, David Berman (1999)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Midtown (instrumental) - Rain Dogs [117]

Song by Song welcomes a rotating roster of guests for the second half of Rain Dogs, beginning this week with Lauren Spohrer and Phoebe Judge of the Criminal podcast. With some definite differences of opinion (or even ideology) on this instrumental track (as well as the whole genre of Jazz in general), Song by Song debates whether experiencing the process of the creation of art (and entertainment) is a valid or pleasurable thing, or whether we should all just get our teeth drilled instead.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Midtown, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

Rhapsody In Blue, George Gershwin/dir. Michael Tilson Thomas (1985)

Rhapsody In Blue, George Gershwin/dir. Leonard Bernstein (1959)

Rhapsody In Blue, George Gershwin original recording (1924)

Rhapsody In Blue, George Gershwin from Fantasia 2000 (2000)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

The Wire Stripped / Song by Song Special on Way Down In The Hole

Welcome to 2018! For this first outing of the year, we're doing a special out-of-sequence episode, as Sam and Martin are joined again by Kobi Omenaka to discuss the use of Way Down In The Hole in the opening credits of the TV show The Wire. Kobi and his co-host Dave Corkery have just launched their new show The Wire Stripped, so conversation ranges from the musical styles and influences of the covers into the content of the seasons themselves, and how the credits music informs and echoes that content.

We'll be back to our regular schedule next week. In the meantime, be sure to check out The Wire Stripped on your podcatcher of choice.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Way Down In The Hole, Frank's Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

Way Down In The Hole, Spirit Of The Century, Blind Boys Of Alabama (2002)

Way Down In The Hole, "...and all the pieces matter..." - The Music of The Wire, The Neville Brothers (2008)

Way Down In The Hole, "...and all the pieces matter..." - The Music of The Wire, DoMaJe (2008)
Way Down In The Hole, Washington Square Serenade, Steve Earle (2007)
Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Rain Dogs - Rain Dogs [116]

We’ve reached another of the standout moments in Waits’s chronology with the title track of Rain Dogs. Jon, Martin and Sam discuss some of the stylistic influences on Waits from older traditions, the reality and fantasy elements in this song (and others), and a return to the perennial debate around authenticity. Plus the usual diversions into the role of small people in dreams, beauty contests in Irish sitcoms and the always looming presence of David Lynch. Of course...

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Rain Dogs, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet - 5. Tramp and Tom Waits with full Orchestra, Bryars - Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, Gavin Bryars/Tom Waits (1971/1993)

Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet - 1. Tramp with full Orchestra, Bryars - Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, Gavin Bryars (1971/1993)

Notes on the recording of Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet - written for John Potter, from www.gavinbryars.com (retrieved 20/12/17)

Peter Dinklage's Dwarf Rant (Living in Oblivion, 1995)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Time - Rain Dogs [115]

More discussions this week with Jon Ronson around the writing style of both Waits as well as Jon himself in his feature film Frank. With music that Waits influenced as well as plenty of discussion around the musical presences in Frank, we dig into more perspectives on our interaction with music as identity, political as well as personal.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Time, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

If I Should Fall From Grace With God, If I Should Fall From Grace With God, The Pogues (1988)

Official trailer for Frank, dir. Lenny Abrahamson, wri. Jon Ronson (2016)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Hang Down Your Head - Rain Dogs [114]

Song by Song is pleased to welcome Jon Ronson to the show to discuss the next few tracks from Waits's tenth studio album, Rain Dogs. With a certain amount of biographical discussion around the origins of Jon's love for Waits, his experiences listening to him in Cardiff and seeing him in London, we also discuss the relationship between Waits and Bruce Springsteen, and the way that two performers can be so alike as well as so different.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Hang Down Your Head, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

Thundercrack, Live Version (via YouTube), Bruce Springsteen (1973)

Jersey Girl, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Live 1975-85, Bruce Springsteen/Tom Waits (1986)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Diamonds & Gold - Rain Dogs [113]

For this very material song about the riches of the world, we delve into the metaphysical as Eric, Sam and Martin debate some of the semi-hallucinatory worlds that Waits creates in his music, or perhaps that a warm studio makes its occupants feel. With the intersection of real and Imaginary Worlds (plugplugplug), Rain Dogs continues it’s meander through the urban landscapes of America.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Diamonds & Gold, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

Deep Blue Sea, The Complete Bowdoin College Concert, Traditional/Pete Seeger (1960)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Big Black Mariah - Rain Dogs [112]

Whoop-whoop! That’s the sound of the critique, as Eric, Martin and Sam revisit the criminal underbelly of Waits’s version of America through this latest track from Rain Dogs. With the demonization (and possibly supernaturalisation) of the police in both this as well as our much more political interval track, we discuss the interaction between authority figures and minorities in the US, as well as the idea of Waits role as “guide” through some of the semi-unreal worlds found in his songs.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Big Black Mariah, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

Sound of da Police, Return of the Boom Bap, KRS-One (1993)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Tango Till They're Sore - Rain Dogs [111]

Song by Song extends a warm welcome to Eric Molinsky of the Imaginary Worlds Podcast, joining us for the latest track from Rain Dogs. As we pick through how Waits presents himself in both the songs as well as his PR appearances, we get to look at the humour in his writing, and more of the ideas of how to represent worlds through music and lyrics. Also spider-venom dancing.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Tango Till They're Sore, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

The Masochism Tango, An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer, Tom Lehrer (1959)

Tom Waits on Late Night With David Letterman 2/6/86, via YouTube (1986)

A playlist of Rain Dogs promo videos, via YouTube

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Jockey Full of Bourbon - Rain Dogs [110]

Our conversation leaves the public space of Kings Place, returning to the seclusion of our normal recording environs (albeit separated by the North Atlantic Ocean) for another twofer with Martin and Sam. Talking through the lyrics and music found in this fourth song from Rain Dogs, we again visit some of the question of style vs substance, as well as spending some time discussing the unique musical stylings of Marc Ribot.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Jockey Full of Bourbon, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

Fat Man Blues, Silent Movies/Live Version, Marc Ribot (2010)


Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Cemetery Polka - Rain Dogs [109]

It’s one more week of traumatic noise-endurance music torture, as Helen Zaltzman, John Hodgkin and the audience from the London Podcast Festival are finally released from their purgatorial fortnight at King’s Place. With some suspicion over the veracity of the stories surrounding Waits’s family, the welcome calming influence of Jake Thackray and outlandish promises of future guests for the podcast, Song by Song concludes its series of live shows with this third track from Rain Dogs. Next year we’ll have fewer human sacrifices, promise…

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Cemetery Polka, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

Lah-Di-Dah, Jake In The Box, Jake Thackray (2006/1967)


Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Clap Hands - Rain Dogs [108]

The discussion continues at the London Podcast Festival, as our guests Helen Zaltzman and John Hodgman return to talk through the second track from Rain Dogs. John’s stories about his London-cheese-based glory days give way to anecdotes from Helen concerning the secret burial of her grandmother, but the vibe is pretty much the same - a lot of hand-clapping games, riffs on host’s names, the condemnation of this show’s topic as "a big phoney" - the usual stuff.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Clap Hands, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

The Clapping Song, The Clapping Song… and more, Shirley Ellis (2016/1965)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Singapore - Rain Dogs [107]

We are back! And in an effort to change the format slightly without really having to think of anything too new or original, we've roped some podcasting luminaries into kicking off season 10 of... what's the name of the show again?

This week we kick off Rain Dogs with contributions from our latest guest hosts Helen Zaltzman and John Hodgman, as they tell us about some of their personal histories with this album, talk about inter-Pacific cultural appropriation, and pin down some of the subtleties of Bay Area geography.

(seriously though, what is the name of the show?)

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Singapore, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

Sausolito, Western Union Band, Western Union Band (2003/1972)

Town With No Cheer, Anywhere I Lay My Head, Scarlett Johansson/Tom Waits (2008)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Rainbirds - Swordfishtrombones [106]

It's the end of season nine, let's all get down and funky with some mid-20th-century experimental piano sonatas to celebrate! Købi returns for one more track to wrap up Swordfishtrombones . With some Lynchian ideas of art as well as a brief dip into John Cage's theory of musical indeterminacy, plus the ever-present question of finishing moves in Mortal Combat, Sam and Martin say goodbye to another album - we'll see you for Rain Dogs in a few weeks!

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Rainbirds, Swordfishtrombones, Tom Waits (1983)

Sonata No. 6, Sonatas And Interludes For Prepared Piano, John Cage/Boris Berman (1946-48/2001)

Sonata No. 6, Sonatas And Interludes For Prepared Piano, John Cage/Illya Filshtinskiy (1946-48/2015)

Composer William Zeitler plays a glass armonica, invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761, courtesy of The Toronto Star / youtube.com, 2013

… and for silly fun, Street Glass Harp Artist plays Hallelujah, via youtube.com, 2013

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Trouble's Braids - Swordfishtrombones [105]

Still on the run from the music police, Købi and Sam pull on Martin's braids (he's the one with the follicles) and slam that mother******g drum as Swordfishtrombones heads into its final two tracks. With more of Martin's hatred of jazz in our interval track and an attempt to clarify exactly what a piano is, we continue to lay down this totally authoritative analysis of the entirety of music. No no, keep your seats, you're welcome. 

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Trouble's Braids, Swordfishtrombones, Tom Waits (1983)

Seven Steps To Heaven, Seven Steps To Heaven, Miles Davis/Victor Feldman (1963)

Kofo the Wonderman performs a traditional tune at the Zinc Bar, via congahead.com / youtube.com, 2012

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.