Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I got this watermarked photo of Tom Waits and Neil Young from last night's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony from Getty Images, the photo was taken by Michael Loccisano, and I was led to the photo from the always-great Neil Young blog Thrasher's Wheat.

So you know that I'm a huge Neil Young fan. If pressed, I  might say he's my favorite artist ever. But I didn't think he would be the right guy to give a speech about Tom Waits last night. My one and only choice would have been Les Claypool of Primus. And it seems to have turned out pretty well, the excerpts of Neil's speech that I read seemed cool, and Neil and Tom jammed on "Get Behind The Mule."  Here's five cool things about that.

1. Tom's set included not just "Get Behind The Mule," but "House Where Nobody Lives" (both from my favorite Waits album, 1999's Mule Variations), "Make It Rain" (from his last full length, 2004's Real Gone) and the title track of 1985's Rain Dogs. It would have been easy as hell for Tom to do "Ol' 55" and "Jersey Girl," and everyone would have felt good about it (including Fuse, who will air an edited version of the show Sunday night). Instead, three of the four songs are from his last few albums on Epitaph.  These songs may not be what got him voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but they are compelling reasons for why he was voted in.

2. Neil has already recorded a version of "Get Behind The Mule." Neil played lead guitar on Booker T. Jones' 2009 Potato Hole (also on Epitaph) album, which featured a cover of this song. The backing band on that album was The Drive-By Truckers, who had written a song about Young, "Ronnie and Neil" from their 2002 classic, Southern Rock Opera. That song was about Neil and the late Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Ronnie Van Zant. What did Neil think of the song? The Truckers never met him: Neil recorded his leads on his own.

3. Neil pretty much ripped off the song for "Get Behind The Wheel" for his 2009 album Fork In The Road.

4. Tom could have easily performed with Paul Schaffer's house band, but instead bought guitarist Mark Ribot and multi-instrumentalist David Hildago of Los Lobos with him. These guys (and Neil) capture the vibe of his songs way more than Schaffer's band would (with all due respect).

5. For Pete's sake, it's Neil Young and Tom Waits jamming together!

1 comment:

cbro said...

Great post. I love Tom Waits.

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