Night On Earth (film, dir. Jarmusch, 1991) [F09]

Song by Song welcomes back Helen Zaltzman to talk through the film that launched a podcasting power-couple, Jim Jarmusch’s 1991 taxi-based anthology Night On Earth. With some mixed feelings about the various segments, along with overall admiration for the ambition of the piece, Helen, Martin & Sam pick through the emotional connections (or lack thereof) between the characters, the sense of space, time and tone found in the chapters, and the contribution of whichever random guy wrote the music.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Good Old World (Gypsy), Night On Earth, Tom Waits (1991)

Night On Earth Trailer, via YouTube (dir. Jim Jarmusch, 1991)

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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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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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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)


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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)

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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)

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