Rain Dogs – Tom Waits

This album sounded great tonight, although the post-urban, street-blues noir was a bit lost in semi-rural Durham. I love the track Tango Till They’re Sore, and I thought it was inspired to get Les Dawson to play piano (sorry, couldn’t resist that). It is a ‘pop song’ constructed from the leftovers of a New Orleans funeral band.
One of the best songs on the album, for me, is Gun Street Girl. Acoustic blues noir of a mythic Midwestern American landscape of gas station bathrooms, buying second-hand Novas and then leaving for Indiana. I could only imagine as an English teen how exotic and exciting these places seemed, that was until I went there. I asked my wife to give me a Tom Wait’s experience of the Midwest. I wanted to see greasy gas stations with blues banjo players sitting outside, playing and singing like their lives depended on it. However, the Midwest wasn’t exactly how I had imagined. Tom should have really highlighted the area as moderately prosperous farming states, obsessed by basketball and having a tendency towards tornadoes in early Summer. I also never saw anyone who I would have considered Cuban-chinese.
Most albums released in the 1980s seem to smell of the decade, and the instrumental and lyrical tropes of the time litter them. Rain Dogs has none of these tropes, it sounds like the anti-80s, he even made the accordion sound sexy and dangerous.
Four word review; Kurt Weill on food stamps

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