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

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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

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Gin Soaked Boy - Swordfishtrombones [104]

Waits returns to another style we haven't heard for a few albums to fool around with the blues for a couple of minutes. As Købi, Martin and Sam discuss the guitar stylings of Fred Tackett as well as some of the technical recording choices, we head into the final few tracks of Swordfishtrombones on this week's Song by Song. 

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

In A Town Like This, In A Town Like This, Fred Tackett (2003)

In A Town Like This, Kickin' It At The Barn, Little Feat (2003)

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Soldier's Things - Swordfishtrombones [103]

Sam and Martin welcome Købi Omenaka of the Flixwatcher podcast to listen to another story of the broken-hearted side of military service. We discuss Paul Young's cover of this track, the details within the lyrics and possibly even its function as a microcosm of Waits's songwriting style and ideology... yeah, that's right, digging deep this week on Song by Song!

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

Soldier's Things, The Secret Of Association, Paul Young, (1985)

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Down, Down, Down - Swordfishtrombones [102]

Martin and Sam return for another slice of Swordfishtrombones, as Waits grabs his bible and gives it a good thump. Links to blues performers of the 20s and how seriously we should take Tom's threats of fire and brimstone all feature, plus... the return of the grand unified egg theory of musical accessibility.

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

It's Nobody's Fault But Mine, It's Nobody's Fault But Mine - The Best Of, Blind Willie Johnson (1925/2010)

Nobody's Fault But Mine, Nina Simone & Piano, Nina Simone (1969)

Nobody's Fault But Mine, Presence, Led Zeppelin (1976)

The Soul Of A Man, God Don't Never Change: The Songs Of Blind Willie Johnson, Tom Waits/Blind Willie Johnson (2016)

John The RevelatorGod Don't Never Change: The Songs Of Blind Willie Johnson, Tom Waits/Blind Willie Johnson (2016)

Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground, God Don't Never Change: The Songs Of Blind Willie Johnson, Rickie Lee Jones/Blind Willie Johnson (2016)

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Swordfishtrombone - Swordfishtrombones [101]

With nary a George Orwell reference in sight, Martin and Sam delve deep into textual interpretation of both this Waits track as well as a classic Dylan protest song. Whether Waits is writing about the personal or the political, as well as the variety of vocal styles at his disposal, all this and more makes up the discussion on this week's Song by Song. 

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

A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan (1963)

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Frank's Wild Years - Swordfishtrombones [100]

Welcome back to Song by Song for this, our 87th episode! 

(Except we did one episode for the film One From The Heart, and one more for all the songs on that soundtrack, and I think there's 4 teaser episodes, but they don't count, but the other two do, and it's our show so we're calling it 100, that's some large-print/small-print shit right there, get away from me kid, you bother me...)

Anyway... we're talking about Frank's Wild Years. Thanks for listening. 

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Frank's Wild Years, Swordfishtrombones, Tom Waits (1983)

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Just Another Sucker On The Vine - Swordfishtrombones [099]

For their last discussion with Jo Neary, Martin and Sam try to untangle some of the questions that arise from this latest track. With debate relating to its placement on the album, Waits's interest in keyboard sounds and technology of the past and some comparison with the much more forward-looking Herbie Hancock, Song by Song continues through Swordfishtrombones. 

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Just Another Sucker On The Vine, Swordfishtrombones, Tom Waits (1983)

Rocket, Future Shock, Herbie Hancock (1983)

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In The Neighbourhood - Swordfishtrombones [098]

As Song by Song continues through Swordfishtrombones, we encounter one of the strange outliers in Waits's writing career in this celebration of small-town mundanity. As the tangents to our conversations come thick and fast, we discuss the parochial outlook of Colin Moulding, the heartwarming perspective of Mr Rogers, the bleak opinions of Cyril Connolly (who is the real writer of the "There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall" quote) and everything in-between. Variety. You're welcome.

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

Bungalow, Nonsuch, XTC (1992)

In The Neighbourhood, Music video via Vimeo, Tom Waits/Haskell Wexler (1983)

Mr Roger's Neighbourhood Theme Song, via YouTube

Mr Rogers Explained to Modern Kids, Buzzfeed Celeb, via YouTube (2014)

Fred Rogers Emmy Acceptance Speech, via YouTube (1997)

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Town With No Cheer - Swordfishtrombones [097]

This week sees us head across to Australasia/Oceanica to discuss outsider and insider perspectives of small-town Australia. Jo Neary is back to talk about gigs she's attended, paintings of photos she's seen and the outfits of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. Meanwhile, Martin's continues his sub-project to infuriate all of our listeners this week by (gently) suggesting that Nick Cave is overrated. Fury all around this week on Song by Song!

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Town With No Cheer, Swordfishtrombones, Tom Waits (1983)

There Is A Town, Nocturama, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2003)

A Pub With No Beer, Single, Slim Dusty (1979/2007)

Tom Waits on David Letterman, The Late Show (2013)

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16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought-Six - Swordfishtrombones [096]

We go into this week's track mob-handed and ready to rumble; Waits has his rifle, Martin has his (musical) axe, Jo Neary has Excalibur and Sam… has a trapped nerve in his neck, might sit this one out actually… We spend this week talking about the weirdness of the world created in this song, the much stranger world of Captain Beefheart, improvisation in comedy and music, and what Waits might be shooting at with those 16 shells.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought Six, Swordfishtrombones, Tom Waits (1983)

Ice Cream For Crow, Ice Cream For Crow, Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band (1982)

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Johnsburg, Illinois - Swordfishtrombones [095]

Back one more time with Philippa Spanos, we delve again into Waits directly writing about Kathleen Brennan, as well as the way that this track reaches back to the songwriting techniques of his earlier albums. With a sense of loss pervading both this track as well as our interval, Song by Song continues its journey through Swordfishtrombones.

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

Chelsea Hotel #2, New Skin For The Old Ceremony, Leonard Cohen (1974)

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Dave The Butcher - Swordfishtrombones [094]

Three tracks in and we're already deep in the weeds with season 9 of Song by Song, picking through the nature of this odd intense instrumental both in terms of the meaning of the title as well as the musical choices Waits makes. We get into industrial music as well as musique concrète, as well as some of the politics of the humble bacon sandwich on this latest track from Swordfishtrombones.

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

December, One Pig, Matthew Herbert (2011)

Matthew Herbert discusses the process of creating One Pig (video link)
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Shore Leave - Swordfishtrombones [093]

As their unmanageable egos run rampant, Sam and Martin return with Philippa to discuss the musical soundscape created in this second track from Swordfishtrombones. There are some strange choices in terms of instruments (and furniture) on this song, as well as a direct comparison not only of the song and a later cover, but of Waits's own opinion of the song as well.

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

Shore Leave, Wicked Grin, John Hammond (2001)


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Underground - Swordfishtrombones [092]

After taking a more cursory approach last season for One From The Heart, Song by Song rolls up its sleeves (between four and eight sleeves usually, six this week) to return to a more in-depth analysis of the music of Tom Waits, beginning season 9 with the opening track of Swordfishtrombones, Underground. Philippa Spanos joins Sam and Martin to debate the instrumentation and lyrical content of the song, as well as David Bowie's ball-manipulation technique and goblins. All the goblins.

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

Subbacultcha, Trompe Le Monde, The Pixies (1991)

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One From The Heart OST [078 - 091]

Welcome back to Song by Song, and the second of our season 8 episodes dealing with Waits's Original Motion Picture Soundtrack One From The Heart.

We discussed a lot of ideas for this album, different approaches to it, different ways of dealing with the music and the film in combination, but as we discussed last week, the music is so inextricably tied to the film that to talk about the album in isolation wouldn't really be satisfying to either of us.

The rules we set ourselves for this podcast were "studio albums"... but we bent those rules a little for Nighthawks, we'll probably bend them again for Night On Earth, Orphans and maybe a couple of other places too. But there's also a remit to our show - we agreed to talk about each track in sequence, song-by-song (everybody drink), and with a few bonus track exceptions, that's what we've done.

So, to balance these various ideas, we present a condensed Season 8 - the next 14 episodes combined into one easy-to-swallow dose. It's Song by Song, as we agreed, and hopefully you'll understand why we've chosen to approach this album in this way.

So strap in, grab a stopwatch, and we'll see you in just a couple of weeks for Season 9 and Swordfishtrombones.

Martin & Sam

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:

One From the Heart Original Soundtrack, Tom Waits/Crystal Gale (1982)

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One From The Heart - Song by Cinemile special [077]

Here we are with season 8, and it's going to be a little different. One From The Heart is kind of a unique object in the Tom Waits canon, so we've determined to treat it in a unique way. Welcome to... Song by Cinemile! A crossover episode between ourselves and the good folks of the Cinemile podcast (fellow winners at the British Podcast Awards this summer).

Since One From The Heart is so tied to the film of the same name, to talk about one without the other seemed problematic, so for the next two weeks we will have some special episodes dealing with the film, and then the music, in close relation to each other.

Hopefully you’ll join us on this slight diversion from our format, as we wander both through Las Vegas of the 1980s as well as Weybridge of the 2010s, as Martin and Sam are joined by Dave and Cathy to discuss one of the infamous film objects of cinema history.

And as for next week… hoo-boy!

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:

One From the Heart Original Soundtrack, Tom Waits/Crystal Gale (1982)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Mid-Season pauses

Hey folks - Song by Song has been on hiatus, stilled stunned by our award win - but we are back next week with everyone's favourite Tom Waits/Crystal Gayle/Francis Ford Coppola collaboration - the oscar-nominated soundtrack One From The Heart!

One From The Heart was always going to be an unusual one to deal with - a studio album, so something we intended to discuss, but being so closely tied to the film, and featuring a lot of songs which seem so in service of Coppola's ideas, we wanted to do something a little different. But we weren't quite sure what.

The 'what' materialised at the British Podcast Awards when we bumped into Dave and Cathy, who'd just won Best New Podcast award for their show Cinemile - where the two review a film they've just seen on their walk back from the cinema. Quicker that you can say 'crossover episode', we decided that One From The Heart would be perfect for the Cinemile treatment - and next Wednesday, you can find out whether we were right!

This means May 31st will be Swordfishtrombones listening party night, and our Swordfshtrombones season kicks off on June 7th. We are very excited. Here are the dates for your diary:

  • May 24th: One From The Heart special episode (aka Season 8)
  • May 31st, 8pm: Swordfishtrombones listening party 
  • June 14th:  Season 9 - Swordfishtrombones kicks off

There's been some fantastic feedback on the show recently, and we're both really excited to continue this award-winningly-stupid project (did we mention we won an award? oh yeah...), so we hope you'll join us very soon.

Sam & Martin

British Podcast Awards - FOR THE WIN!

This week brought us to the end of our seventh season, but also gave us the utterly unexpected pleasure of a win at the British Podcast Awards! 

 

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Sadly Sam was busy with family this weekend, but Martin proudly collected the award, accompanied by a small stuffed owl in lieu of his co-host.

IMG_1087.JPG

We've mentioned in the past what a terrible idea this show is - two idiots talking about hundreds of songs armed only with enthusiasm for music, a little technical understanding and a lot of bad jokes - but it's incredibly gratifying to feel that there are people out there who think it's a worthwhile endeavour, and both the listeners as well as our peers seem to be willing to provide that endorsement.

So just a little note to say thank you for tuning in, sending in your comments and feedback, thoughts and support, and especially heartfelt thanks to all of our guests for giving their time and consideration to the show.

We'll be back with a different sort of show for season 8 very soon, and then will continue to work through the Waits catalogue Song by Song.

 

(that's the name of the show) 

Ruby’s Arms - Heartattack And Vine [076]

Bring out the brass, it's the end of another album and another season of Song by Song. With some pretty serious frustration by our guest host over some of the gender stereotypes presented in this song (as well as our interval track), we bid farewell not only to Heartattack And Vine as well as Vera herself. We also take a little extra time to discuss not just Ruby's Arms, but the walk-away stylings of Matt Monro as well as the album as a whole. Seven seasons guys, we're actually doing this aren't we?!?

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Ruby’s Arms, Heartattack And Vine, Tom Waits (1980)

Softly, As I Leave You, Single, Matt Monro (1962)

… and in memory of Robert Bruce Banner…

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