Waits has made something of a tradition of visiting Letterman’s show, or maybe Letterman has made a tradition of inviting him. Music journalists often slap the word “reclusive” in front of his name, but Waits does make his media appearances, the best of which he makes on Letterman’s show. You’ll find many such segments on Youtube, including ones from 1983,1986, 1987, 1988, 2002, 2004, and this year. In 1986, Letterman introduced Waits as “probably the only guest we’ve had on this program who was born in the back of a taxi,” which I assume still holds true. Just above, we’ve embedded his 1983 Christmastime sit-down, which Waits’ fans seem to regard with special fondness, and in which Letterman first learns this choice fact. Beyond that, Waits sings two songs and discusses his various unorthodox residences (motel, trailer, car), the use of brake drums as percussive drums on his then-latest album, and how he intervened when a schoolboy was suspended for bringing one of Waits’ records to show-and-tell. In Waits, we have the prime living exemplar of a certain particularly American style of performing and songwriting, and in Letterman, we have the prime living exemplar of a certain particularly American style of simultaneously silly and self-aware humor. What luck for the country that these two can get together as often as they do.
My note: Oh man this clip shows why Letterman is/was the best. He *actually* cared about the bands and let the bands actually play. This X album was a huge fave of mine (still is). They perform songs from the great album “More Fun in the New World” produced by Ray Manzarek (The Doors). Must be from around 1983.
BTW, X reunited with original lineup to play at SXSW in 2014.
PS Saw X on 40th anniversary tour with original line-up in San Francisco in 2015.
How Music Works is David Byrne’s remarkable and buoyant celebration of a subject he’s spent a lifetime thinking about. He explains how profoundly music is shaped by its time and place, and how the advent of recording technology forever changed our relationship to playing, performing, and listening to music. Acting as historian and anthropologist, raconteur and social scientist, he searches for patterns—and tells us how they have affected his own work over the years with Talking Heads and his many collaborators. Touching on the joy, physics, and the business of making music, he also shows how it is inextricably linked to its cultural and physical context. His range is panoptic, taking us from La Scala to African villages, from his teenage reel-to-reel recordings to his latest work in a home music studio. How Music Works is a brainy, irresistible adventure and an impassioned argument about music’s liberating, life-affirming power.
But you must have had a good time writing it. We’d been practicing for about three months. We were waiting to sign to DGC, and Dave [Grohl] and I were living in Olympia [Wash.], and Krist [Novoselic] was living in Tacoma [Wash.]. We were driving up to Tacoma every night for practice, trying to write songs. I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it [smiles]. When I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily I should have been in that band – or at least in a Pixies cover band. We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard.
“Teen Spirit” was such a clichéd riff. It was so close to a Boston riff or “Louie, Louie.” When I came up with the guitar part, Krist looked at me and said, “That is so ridiculous.” I made the band play it for an hour and a half.
RS tackles the complete catalog of the band that defined the Nineties and made the world a lot noisier
In honor of Rolling Stone‘s Nirvana collector’s issue, we’ve dug deep into the catalog of the chaos-embracing sludge-pop titans who changed the world. We’ve ranked all 102 album cuts, B-sides, bonus tracks, officially released covers, bootlegger-traded originals, home demos, Peel Sessions, and 4-track experiments we could find, from Nirvana‘s formation in 1987 to their McCartney-assisted reunion in 2013. It’s no secret that the 38 songs on Nirvana’s three classic albums blurred the lines between punk’s most subterranean muck and pop’s highest reaches. But they also left behind a wealth of other material from the shaggy to sublime, from combustible to calm, from coulda-been hits to unfinished sketches. Here it is, from Aero to Zeppelin, and everything in between.
I have written elsewhere that it looks doubtful that musicians will be able to make much of a living from their recordings given the kind of pittance that trickles down from streaming services after record labels and others have taken their pieces of the pie. It appears that it will be harder and harder for musicians to even get to the level of audience where they can make a living based on income from live shows. My assumption in coming to this conclusion is that the impact of these services will be this profound because they might soon be the way most folks consume recorded music. Music consumption through streaming grew 32% from 2012 to 2013 in the U.S., while overall music sales fell 6.3%. (Source) At present these services are, in some countries, a small ancillary revenue stream for musicians, and in those cases they’re viewed as another welcome revenue stream. But I’m curious as to what happens to musicians when these services become more ubiquitous—when streaming becomes the new download (just as the download took over physical CD sales)—which is what the owners, partners and investors in them intend.