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Tom Waits – Rain Dogs (1985)

November 28, 2015


exemplary artwork by sarca @ caughtmegaming

Into the Black Artist #1: Venom

Into the Black Artist #2: Joni Mitchell

Into the Black Artist #3: Manic Street Preachers

Into the Black Artists #4 & #5: Elvis Presley & Public Enemy

Into the Black Artist #6: Tom Waits
(qualifies with the Rain Dogs track Big Black Mariah)


[Album 438/1001]

Whenever a Tom Waits neophyte hears Rain Dogs for the first time, the reaction is nearly guaranteed to contain the letters W-T-F.Tom_Waits_-_Rain_Dogs

Though the letter sequence & meanings can vary.

First impressions will likely range from:

1. The baffled

As in the usual WTF

As in, That’s Freakin’ Weird, especially this version of Downtown Train that sounds like Trey Parker imitating Bruce Springsteen covering Rod Stewart?

As in, really, Five Tom Waits albums on the 1001?



2. The intrigued

As in, hey, the line “all go to heaven in a little rowboat,” Wasn’t That From _____?”

As in, Tom Waits First sang Downtown Train here? I was not aware of that.



3. The impressed

As in the usual FTW

As in, really, only Five Tom Waits albums on the 1001?

As in Tom Waits Fan. Perhaps not so much at first but after double-digit Rain Dogs listens, I certainly consider myself one today.


Well Technology Friends, This Was (a) Fun way to wrap up Into the Black November, thanks for reading!


From → 1980s

  1. jprobichaud permalink

    I love this original version of Downtown train, though to be honest, as much as I have tried to get into Tom Waits, I’ve never been truly converted.

    • I’m new to the fan club myself JP – I imagine he’s an artist you have to be in the mood for, unlike a group like REM which tends to work in any circumstance.
      I’d say he’s also a niche artist – I could listen to dozens of bands that sound like REM but I have no interest in hearing a Tom Waits sound-a-like!

      • jprobichaud permalink

        It’s interesting. He’s a bit like Leonard Cohen in that if you listen to the first and last albums, they are almost unrecognizably different. I actually really like Waits’s early work. It’s his later stuff that has me liking bits and pieces. I’ve heard he’s great live though.

      • And apparently Leonard still puts on a great show, at age 80!

      • jprobichaud permalink

        He does! He does!

    • I’ve also tried but failed to become a big Waits fan. I have a friend who’s kind of obsessed with him, but after listening to a few albums a number of times I’m still in the good-not-amazing camp. The album that I’ve found most enjoyable so far is Bone Machine (is that in the 1001?). Rain Dogs is pretty good too but it seems to drag on too long.

      • Bone Machine’s on the 1001, haven’t got there yet.
        He seems to be an artist that I wouldn’t say people love or hate, more so that people love or like you said, not so amazing.
        I was in the neat but not so amazing camp for Nighthawks, moved up a fan group here!
        I found this one on cassette, so perhaps having the side A/B break up helped it from feeling too long.

      • True. I think that would help.

      • jprobichaud permalink

        Bone Machine is pretty amazing. I forgot about that one.

  2. This is great, Geoff – many WTF / TFW moments in Tom’s catalogue. I’ve been startled and excited by the man’s music for many years – always get a kick out this one.

    • And I think many listeners (myself included) will go through all 3 stages of WTF/FTW before becoming a fan – I’m there now!
      Thanks J, enjoy the weekend!

  3. your concept of WTF,FTW & TFW! Cool little series…..

  4. Hi. Swordfish, Rain Dogs, Franks Wild Years and Bone Machine are as good as albums can get imo. Truly a magnificent run of albums.

    • All but Franks are on the 1001 list – I haven’t heard beyond nighthawks and rain dogs yet (heart attack is the other on the list).
      I like when artists put together a string of great ones in a row, sounds like I’ll enjoy the rest of Waits early 80s-early90s run, thanks Daddydinorawk!

  5. I have this! Aaron bought it for me a few years ago, I think his HMV had a 3’fer sale because he sent me three!

    Man Taranna was deep in the Waits yesterday. There was a 3 disc set that Aaron…he knew he was tempting me…but I resisted!

  6. Tom Waits. I started out saying WTF, then he grew on me. Like a fungus. And now he’s everywhere. We have all of his albums. Rain Dogs is amazing. What an excursion.

    Only 5 of his on the list? I demand a re-count.

    • I have a feeling I’ll be in that recount demanding boat by the end of swordfish/heartattack/bone machine!

  7. Seems it took some time but the album finally won you over! Rain Dogs has so many strong tunes and has got to be among my favorite albums by Tom Waits (and from 1985 in general)
    This might be blasphemy, I actually really like Scarlett Johansson’s cover of Anywhere I Lay My Head (from her 2008 album)

    • Just heard the cover – I don’t find her version nor your liking of it blasphemous, not to worry!

  8. A great album that I haven’t listened to in years. I have it on vinyl, and I’m going to play it tonight.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Tom Waits – Swordfishtrombones (1983) | 1001albumsin10years

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