23 July 2011
Men Of Style - Tom Waits
In this series, I will look at men who possess a certain innate sense of style, a personal style all their own, so defined that it has become a kind of personal architecture. When one takes this style and refines and sculpts it, that style can become a character unto itself. There have been many men of distinct style throughout time who have displayed such artistry at developing their look. Three men that stand out as examples are Klaus Nomi, David Bowie and Karl Lagerfeld. In the world of music and performance, this sort of transformation is an expected facet of stagecraft. More often than not, this is a put-on, a façade. In the case of Tom Waits, here is an artist that can, in one instance, look like a Bowery bum, a ranch hand, or like the coolest guy in the world. He is the genuine article.
Some men wear a hat in a way that looks so right, as if they had been born with it on. Tom Waits wears a hat with derelict panache. When he performs, he captivates with his storytelling, vaudevillian gestures, and carnival barker enthusiasm. His songs can be brutal and bawdy, cool and bluesy and tragically heartfelt. The lyrics take you on a trucker's cross country haul, on a soldier's debauched shore leave and end up with a drunk's barroom tirade, all sung in a voice like broken glass, gravel and a million cigarettes.
If you happen to be in Europe over the summer, check out the Anton Corbijn photography exhibition "Inwards and Onwards" in Amsterdam. Many of these photos were taken by Anton Corbijn, who is one of the finest photographers of rock musicians in the world. The exhibition is located at the Foam Museum, Keizersgracht 609.