Big Time (film) - Big Time [171]

Having spent the last 28 episodes and 4 months looking at Big Time as a collection of songs, both on the album and in the concert film, Sam and Martin spend a little time thinking about both the film as an object in itself, and discuss the feel of this entire era of Waits's songwriting. We take a look at the interplay of ideology and narrative, the strengths and weaknesses of the reinterpretations of these songs, and ask the fundamental question of this era: How 'bout that band?

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Big Black Mariah, Big Time (film), Tom Waits (1988)
Unfortunately, we cannot find either video or audio recordings of this song to embed.

Innocent When You Dream - Big Time (film) [170]

Jeremy Warmsley returns for everyone's favourite, Tom Waits In A Bath. With discussion of the fusion of embodied and distanced performance, the post-modern nature of telling a story about stolen memories, and the slightly repetitious nature of the verses, we pick over our final track from Big Time.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Innocent When You Dream, Big Time (film), Tom Waits (1988)

Innocent When You Dream (Barroom), Franks Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

Innocent When You Dream (78), Franks Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

More Than Rain - Big Time (film) [169]

Lily Sloane returns to give a more nuanced and informed assessment of Waits's repression of feelings, as we revisit the heartbreak, loss and loneliness of this song. With some discussion of his singing technique as well as the lyrical changes, we head towards the final tracks of this extended season of Song by Song.

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

More Than Rain, Franks Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

I'll Take New York - Big Time (film) [168]

Gabriel Ebulue of The Three Track Podcast is back for more explorations into the crazed narrative of this film, as Waits's breakdown is mirrored by the breakdown of the world of the film.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
I'll Take New York, Big Time (film), Tom Waits (1988)
Unfortunately, we cannot find video of the Big Time Film version of this song, but starting at 4:47 this video includes audio of a very similar live version, but without Auld Lang Syne.

I'll Take New York, Franks Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

9th & Hennepin - Big Time (film) [167]

Song by Song's roaming poet Ross Sutherland (of the Imaginary Advice podcast) returns to discuss the umbrella-based rooftop iteration of this terrifying dream poem. Looking at some of the logistical and emotional elements of the recording, we also embark on a soup-based metaphor for the film as a whole. It's great guys, another totally coherent bit of musical analysis.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
9th & Hennepin, Big Time (film), Tom Waits (1988)

9th & Hennepin, Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

Straight To The Top - Big Time (film) [166]

Martin and Sam welcome back Gabriel Ebulue of The Three Track podcast to take another look at the horrific wedding-singer persona expressed in the live Vegas version of Straight To The Top. With cameos from other figures from the Tom Waits Players and theories about the cut-and-paste writing style in these songs, we take a fourth (and final) look at this tune.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Straight To The Top, Big Time (film), Tom Waits (1988)
Unfortunately, we cannot find video of the Big Time Film version of this song, but the first 4.40 of this video includes audio of a very similar live version, albeit without the voice-detuning.

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

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

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)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

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)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

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)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

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)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

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)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

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)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

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)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

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)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

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)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

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)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

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)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

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)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.

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)

Log into the Spotify web player to hear these tracks.