Tom Waits is a rare breed of performer, having attained vast commercial success without having had to pander to a mass audience. His gruff voice—the vocal equivalent of too many late nights, strong scotch, and a pack-an-hour habit—has become the hallmark of a sort of grimy, outsider cool favored by Jim Jarmusch and John Lurie. His career, which has spanned four decades and includes theatre, film, and the iconic interview that inspired the character of The Joker in The Dark Knight, is the envy of most musicians. It was only fitting, considering his prodigious output, that Waits would become the subject of a cover album. Unsurprisingly, it comes with a twist—it’s in Hebrew.
Heeb Magazine recently posted a link to “Shirim Meshumashim” (“Used Songs”), producer Guy Hajjaj’s four-year project where Israeli musicians recreate Tom Waits’ back catalog. The 22-song album draws widely from Waits’ career, including songs from classic albums such as Raindogs (1985) as well as the more recent Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards (2006) and Glitter and Doom Live (2009). While more zealous fans will undoubtedly claim that Waits’ original delivery can never be matched, those with an open mind will likely find a number of gems. Some of our favorites include “Clap Hands,” ideally suited to Hebrew’s harsh, gravelly sounds, and the lighter, yet unmistakably Waits-written, “Dirt in The Ground.”
You can stream the album above, or buy the album (downloadable on a pay-what-you-wish basis) here.
Via Heeb Magazine
Tom Waits’ Classic Appearance on Australian TV, 1979
Tom Waits Reads Charles Bukowski
The Black Rider: A Theatrical Production by Tom Waits, William S. Burroughs & Robert Wilson (1990)
Ilia Blinderman is a Montreal-based culture and science writer. Follow him at @iliablinderman.
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