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Tom Waits – Heartattack and Vine (1980)

February 16, 2017


Sensational logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming


[Album 516/1001]

I don’t really like having to listen to Tom Waits.

Don’t get me wrong, I normally enjoy listening to Tom Waits.

Sometimes, nothing but Waits will suffice and frankly, no musical artist is even remotely comparable.

But as it turns out, he’s not benefitting from this week-long immersion.



With Everything But the Girl & Brian Eno, I wasn’t a huge fan going into their respective weeks. However, with repeated exposure…

In the case of U2, I’d left that party in the early 2000s. Yet the revisit rekindled my interest.

As for Elvis Costello & Stevie Wonder? There aren’t really many times when I’m not, to borrow the Glenn Miller tune, In The Mood for some Declan &/or Stevland.

Yet Tom Waits?

Well, I was a fan going into the week, so that doesn’t apply.

Since I arrived late to the Waits party a few years ago, I hadn’t left, so no rekindling was required either.

And I think I’m in the mood for Tom Waits frequently enough.

It’s just that instead of being my ‘go-to’ artist, he’s likely my perfect ‘go-between other artists.’




For lack of a better metaphor, Tom Waits, or Heartattack and Vine specifically, may be the ultimate palate cleanser.220px-tom_waits-heartattack_and_vine

The pickled ginger between pieces of sushi.

I don’t think I’d want to dine on ginger exclusively but the overall sushi experience wouldn’t be the same without it.

Now that I think about it, I only had sushi for the first time a few years ago.

And I’m certainly in the mood for sushi frequently enough.

It’s just somehow more flavourful with some of that pickled ginger in between bites.


Verbalize the Positive

I’m not sure if either would appreciate being compared to pickled ginger, but much like listening to Tom Waits between other artists, I love reading Chuck Klosterman essays between other novels.

I don’t know, pickled ginger/Waits/Klosterman, that’s a pretty formidable trio if you ask me!

From → 1980s

  1. Pickled ginger, eh? Yep, that works (with sushi, anyway).

  2. Pickled ginger sounds like a cool name for a band.
    Or for a bunch of drunken redheads for that matter.

    What band/artist would be the wasabi.

    P.S. I just said wasabi in the wazzup pronununciation in my head.

    • good question about the wasabi – the band that adds a kick, but is overwhelming in large quantities!

      • That sounds like a Nu Metal band like Korn, Limp Bizkit or Linkin Park.

      • Although I see Korn relating more to a vegetable. It’s on the tip of my tongue. Don’t tell me.
        Collected by harvester. Grows on stalks. Has a husk. Eaten on the cob or off.
        C’mon. What is it called again?

  3. I love the metaphors you used to describe how this album fits in to your series and anyone’s immersion into the Waits catalog. As you might remember, I revisited his entire discography, which had me listening to almost nothing but Waits between April and June 2012, so I feel your pain…and joy. And now I’m craving sushi. Then again, I almost always crave sushi. 😀

    • Thanks Rich, much appreciated – and I’m with you on the (to borrow a KD Lang tune) constant craving of sushi!

  4. I’m liking these food analogies. Wasn’t maple syrup part of a recent review too? I wonder what’s cake (apart from the band Cake), what’s salt, what’s water. Food and music always go well!

  5. In my book, this is a pretty weak Waits album – it wouldn’t have been my pick for the book. I like his first few albums, then he lost his way before he reinvented himself with Swordfishtrombones.

    • In the 2005 edition of the book (I think that’s the one I have) there are five Waits albums – if I was choosing five, I’d take something like Closing Time, Small Change, Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs, and Mule Variations.

      • I’ve got the 2005 one too (or at least, my spreadsheets from it – I foolishly loaned the actual book to a friend a couple years ago and haven’t got it back yet!), the book agrees with 2 of your Waits picks!

    • Of the three I explored this week, it was likely the least memorable.
      Tomorrow’s was likely the most memorable, certainly the most memorable title!

  6. I love pickled ginger! For me, it’s delicious with and in between sushi. An artist could certainly do worse than this comparison.

  7. Ok I will say it again…Tom Waits for no one! It’s all I got!

  8. It is definitely possible to have too much Waits exposure f you’re not into it by choice. I mean, you are choosing, but you’re also making yourself listen… Hm.

    Tell you what, this is a great record. Give it 6 months and then come back to it. Betcha dollars to doughnuts you love it then!

    • I take full responsibility for the Waits overexposure this week!
      It’s funny, with some artists, the immersion helps me to ‘get’ them but I guess for me with Waits, I didn’t need to ‘get’ him, turns out I just need to listen & be reminded every so often that I’m a fan!

      • I’ve definitely gone on Tom benders, but never for the purposes of introduction or review. Just for fun. That may be a difference, for sure.

        But playing his stuff now and again? Yes please!

  9. I must admit to little-to-no personal experience with Mr. Waits, but I totally embrace your idea of certain artists being better partaken of via occasional/moderate vice binge consumption. Maybe it’s a compliment to the depth at which they connect.

    • And thank you for interpreting my review of ‘once-in-a-while’ as a positive for the artist.

      I like the way you put it better, a compliment to the depth at which they connect, I might have to borrow that if I encounter another Waits-esque artist!

  10. You’re a brave soul reviewing all these albums in the book in one shot. I can only stomach most of his material in very small chunks, washed down with something a little more tuneful to compensate

  11. Was never the biggest fan of this one. Certainly not my least favourite (I’m not actually all that fond of his early stuff), but I certainly wouldn’t have this anywhere near my top 5 Waits albums.

    Pickled ginger, though… I’ve been known to consume a jar of pickled ginger on its own. No accompaniment needed!

    • Haha, perhaps that’s the key to determining how a listener will enjoy Tom Waits – if you can eat pickled ginger on its own, you’re all set for listening to plenty of Waits!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Tom Waits – Swordfishtrombones (1983) | 1001albumsin10years
  2. 1980 | 1001albumsin10years

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