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Tom Waits' Wild Year

Mark Rowland, Musician, January 1993

NOT LONG ago, Tom Waits and his family uprooted from Los Angeles, his home for many years, and moved up the coast to the quieter, rustic expanse of Petaluma County. "I came for the waters," he deadpans. "I was misinformed. Now what I like to do is get three radios, turn 'em up full blast and imagine I'm back in town. There's my thrill. Sirens really kill me; I get all choked up." Of course Waits is kidding — maybe. On the other hand, few contemporary musicians are as attuned to the atmosphere in which songs are born and bred, with what he calls "negative space." And as for the perversity of pining for L.A.'s urban cacophony, well, part of what has always made Waits special is his knack for finding diamonds in the rough. 

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