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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Red Shoes - Big Time [145]

From her discussion with us back on Blue Valentine, we welcome back special correspondent Elizabeth Sankey to discuss the process of reinterpretation and translation of songs from studio-to-live settings. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Song by Song Towers, Martin and Sam talk about the textural shift in performances, more loss of meaning in the storytelling, as well as the brilliance of the Big Time band.

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

Red Shoes by the Drugstore, Blue Valentine, Tom Waits (1978)

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16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought-Six - Big Time [144]

Roving reporter Jo Neary returns to Song by Song to revisit this track from Swordfishtrombones… and to apologise for her own presence. Meanwhile back in the studio Sam and Martin look at the similarities between this live performance and the original, the lack of priority given to the lyrics, and the shift in recording quality in this album.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought-Six, Big Time, Tom Waits (1988)

16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought-Six, Swordfishtrombones, Tom Waits (1983)

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Big Time Introduction - Big Time [143a]

Thanks for coming everyone - you all got a coffee, great, there's plenty more chairs up here at the front, don't be shy. Ok, welcome to Song by Song season twelve, Big Time album and film, parish notices first I think… As we embark on another (slightly) contracted season covering this 1988 live release, there are a few details to explain about how we're going about things this time around, so if you could all pay attention we'll get out of here nice and quick.

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

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Innocent When You Dream (78) - Franks Wild Years [143]

After seventeen tracks, we reach the end of Franks Wild Years with this scratchy demo-style version of Innocent When You Dream. We discuss the album as a whole, some of the recording techniques used here, as well as the narrative of the show in relation to the drama of American identity as well as his own life. And Sam gets a bit emotional about 1980s Scottish cinema.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Innocent When You Dream (78), Franks Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

(and to make Sam cry again…)
Final scene of Local Hero, w/dir. Bill Forsythe (1983)

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Train Song - Franks Wild Years [142]

Sam and Martin return for the penultimate track of Franks Wild Years, to debate the refining of the Tom-Waits-Saying-Goodbye-And-Catching-A-Train song. We talk about the sense of conclusion to Frank's story (or stories), the departure and the collapse of the dream he's seeking throughout this album, and Waits reaching again for older traditions of songwriting.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Train Song, Franks Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

The Cold Icy Floor, Archive Recording, The Bogtrotter Band (1937)

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Cold Cold Ground - Franks Wild Years [141]

Waits begins to step away from Frank and the relationship of the songs to the play, as Martin and Sam discuss the tense nature of the music on this album, the simplicity of this song compared to the arrangement of others on Franks Wild Years, and the political and social charge that land (and what lurks beneath) can have.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Cold Cold Ground, Franks Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

Down Under, Mining, Rivona, Dear Reader (2013)

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Telephone Call From Istanbul - Franks Wild Years [140]

Heading into the closing tracks of Franks Wild Years, Sam and Martin debate the change of locations in Waits's songwriting from this era, scrunchy chords in relation to atonality, and the relationship of intention & accident in art. Also, a small dog finding the World Cup.

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Telephone Call From Istanbul, Franks Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

Istanbul (Not Constantinople), 16 Most Requested Songs, The Four Lads (1953)

Istanbul (Not Constantinople), Flood, They Might Be Giants (1991)

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I’ll Take New York - Franks Wild Years [139]

Gabriel Ebulue returns for a second portion of Tom Waits doing his crazy lounge singer schtick. This week’s discussion includes atonal organ arrangements, the trajectory of depression in pop songs, and the lonely death of Frank O’Brien. 

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
I’ll Take New York, Franks Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

Here, Working For The Man, Tindersticks (2004)

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Straight To The Top (Vegas) - Franks Wild Years [138]

Song by Song welcomes fellow music enthusiast Gabriel Ebulue from The Three Track Podcast to discuss the second version of this track, as it relates to Sinatra, Jaques Brel, and your crazy uncle at a wedding. 

Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include:
Straight To The Top (Vegas), Franks Wild Years, Tom Waits (1987)

Jacky, Tenement Symphony, Marc Almond (1991)

La chanson de Jacky, Ces Gens-Là, Jacques Brel (1966)

La chanson de Jacky, Book Of Souls: Folio A, Secret Chiefs 3/The Traditionalists/Mike Patton (2013)

Tainted Love (Single), Gloria Jones (1965)

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