Old Favourites - Big Time (film) [165]

Taking a deep cut into Tom Waits's back catalogue, Sam and Martin discuss his beautiful reworking of the songs we all knew and grew to love as children. C'mon.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Old Favourites, Big Time (film), Tom Waits (1988)
Unfortunately, we cannot find either video or audio recordings of this song to embed. But you'll all remember them from your childhoods, so that's fine. C'mon.

Hang On St. Christopher - Big Time (film) [164]

Back on the road with Tom Waits, Martin and Sam struggle with the sound effects breaking into the music, embrace the driving bass line in this live version and note how awful it is celebrating a birthday around actors.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Hang On St. Christopher, Big Time (film), Tom Waits (1988)

Hang On St. Christopher, Franks Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

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Shore Leave - Big Time (film) [163]

Regular Big Time contributor Philippa Spanos returns for her third visit, laying out the physical space described by Waits in the next film-only version of Shore Leave. Back "in the studio", Sam and Martin talk about the scale and strength of Waits's voice in this track, as both a singer and a screamer.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Shore Leave, Big Time (film), Tom Waits (1988)

Shore Leave, Swordfishtrombones, Tom Waits (1983)

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Frank's Wild Years - Big Time (film) [162]

As we dive into the first of the Big Time film-only tracks, Martin and Sam look at the imagery in the film as well as the looser feel of the lyrics in this later interpretation of the life of Frank O'Brien.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Frank's Wild Years, Big Time (film), Tom Waits (1988)
Unfortunately, we cannot find either video or audio recordings of this song to embed.
Frank's Wild Years, Swordfishtrombones, Tom Waits (1983)

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Time - Big Time [161]

As we reach the end of the album, Waits produces a great version of this quiet mournful tune, for once communicating the meaning and poetry of the lyrics in a clearer and more connected way. 

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Time, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

Time, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

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Gun Street Girl - Big Time [160]

Sam and Martin head into the final tracks of the Big Time album struggling with the energy of this version of Gun Street Girl, as well as questioning the purpose of a narrative song that seems to be uninterested in its own narrative. 

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Gun Street Girl, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

Gun Street Girl, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

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Clap Hands - Big Time [159]

Helen Zaltzman returns to take another listen to this track from Rain Dogs, now with 100% more terrifying childcatcher. More deprioritised lyrics here, and as Waits works more to enhance the sinister feel of the song, we discuss some of its limitations as a piece of writing.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Clap Hands, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

Clap Hands, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

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Telephone Call From Istanbul - Big Time [158]

Having already cited it as a strong reinterpretation several times throughout this season, Martin and Sam celebrate this party version of Waits’s weird telephone call.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Telephone Call From Istanbul, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

Telephone Call From Istanbul, Franks Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

Chantilly Lace, Chantilly Lace, The Big Bopper (1958)

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Ruby's Arms - Big Time [157]

Returning from Heartattack & Vine, Vera Chok delivers her report for this live version of Ruby’s arms, angry at the recapitulation of the disconnected dismissive attitude Waits has towards Ruby. Meanwhile Martin struggles with the cognitive dissonance of critical analysis and Sam disses Ribot’s horn.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Ruby's Arms, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

Ruby's Arms, Heartattack & Vine, Tom Waits (1980)

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Johnsburg, Illinois - Big Time [156]

Cub reporter Philippa Spanos returns to revisit another Swordfishtrombones track, the tender ballad for his wife Kathleen, now with added concluding harmony! Back at the SbS ranch, Martin and Sam think about Waits's vocal shift upwards, theorise about Brennan's attitude to his sentimentality, and again consider the space between the performer and a silent (and attentive) live audience.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Johnsburg, Illinois, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

Johnsburg, Illinois, Swordfishtrombones, Tom Waits (1983)

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Train Song - Big Time [155]

Sam once again starts off an episode with an extended theory about the dramatic structure that lives between this song and the dumb story about conception-by-musket… if you'd like to skip this, please begin the episode at the two-minute mark. Meanwhile, Martin pulls things back to more mainstream discussion about Tom's weird flat hands. P.s the song is beautiful.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Train Song, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

Train Song, Franks Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

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Rain Dogs - Big Time [154]

Slightly blown away by this reinterpretation of Waits's mid-80s classic, Martin and Sam join in by celebrating this eastern-Europe/klezmer dance number. We also take some more time to discuss sticking to or pulling away from the strict rhythm of the lyrics, and the shape and meaning of words vs the aesthetic of vocal sound.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Rain Dogs, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

Rain Dogs, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

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Big Black Mariah - Big Time [153]

Our man-on-the-street Eric Molinsky returns to revisit Big Black Mariah, talking about lyric comprehension and the quality of Waits's voice in relation to bed frames and animated characters.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Big Black Mariah, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

Big Black Mariah, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

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Strange Weather - Big Time [152]

Helen Zaltzman returns for the second new track from Big Time, this time dealing with the dull mundanity of cloudy days. The Marianne Faithfull version and the klezmer style in this track are discussed, as well as other representations of weather through the work of Ann Peebles.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Strange Weather, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

I Can't Stand The Rain, I Can't Stand The Rain, Ann Peebles (1973/1974)

Strange Weather, Strange Weather, Marianne Faithful (1987)

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Falling Down - Big Time [151]

For the first of the two original tracks on Big Time, Sam and Martin welcome back friend/wife of the show Helen Zaltzman, for discussions ranging from how it affects breakfast time, similarities to the work of Michael Douglas, and the fundamental question as to why this studio track is included on a live album. We also debate the subject and object of the lyrics, and the tone of condemnation in this song as compared to Waits's earlier work.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Falling Down, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down, Get Happy, Elvis Costello & The Attractions (1980)

I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down (single), Sam & Dave (1967)

Tubthumping, Tubthumper, Chumbawamba (1997)

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Way Down In The Hole - Big Time [150]

Episode 150! We made it! … if by "it", you mean a round number of episodes, and if by "we" you mean Sam, Martin and returning guest Lily Sloane. In this landmark episode we go back to talk about Way Down In The Hole for the 7th (8th?) and final time, discussing again question of the appropriation of black culture, the use of money in the language of Waits's preacher character, and Lily's random Tom Waits sightings.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Way Down In The Hole, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

Way Down In The Hole, Franks 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)

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Yesterday Is Here - Big Time [149]

Live and in-person, Martin and Sam welcome back Helen Sadler to discuss the general feel of live albums vs studio equivalents, and the presentation of music to different audiences simultaneously.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Yesterday Is Here, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

Yesterday Is Here, Franks Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

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Straight To The Top - Big Time [148]

Looking back to the Rhumba version of this track from Franks Wild Years, Sam and Martin feel their way through an excellent version of a song that has little appeal for either of them. We also discuss some of the physicality of Waits's live performance, and how that informs the performance.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Straight To The Top, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

Straight To The Top (Rhumba), Franks Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

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Cold Cold Ground - Big Time [147]

Lacking a guest this episode, Martin and Sam debate similarities and differences between the live and studio versions, including some of the musical effects of changing counts, back-singing of phrases, and how these techniques help reinterpret songs.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Cold Cold Ground, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

Cold Cold Ground, Franks Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

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Underground - Big Time [146]

Philippa Spanos, our first guest from Swordfishtrombones, takes another look at Underground on Big Time, which seems to be her preferred upbeat bouncy party version. Back in the Song by Song bunker, Sam and Martin compare Disney animated corollaries, note the disparity of material and the similarity of tone on this live album, and how meaning is retained slightly better on this third track.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Underground, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

Underground, Swordfishtrombones, Tom Waits (1983)

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