While I haven’t been the biggest Tom Waits fan over the years — meaning I don’t listen to him on a very regular basis, I don’t rush to buy every new record, and I don’t even attend live performances on the rare occasion he tours in my neck of the woods — I’ve always loved his music and his acting.
Waits is a wonderful amalgam of Beat poet, vaudevillian, and rock star. He authentically embodies and gives voice to all the grit and struggle, the longing and the love of poor and working class people in a world dominated by greedy profiteers and corrupt politicians.
And while many artists who explore the darker side of modern life are consumed by the misery of it all, eroding away or crashing and burning, Waits somehow presses on with prolific and incredibly diverse creative productivity.
On his new album, Bad As Me, his first in eight years, Tom Waits sounds as raw and vital and on his game as he ever has. And when I saw the following video, I was practically dumbstruck by the intense energy of both the song and the performance, how utterly committed he is, how inside the music he is, like he’s truly in some drunken revelry,
The song, Satisfied, is a kind of response to the Rolling Stones’ 1965 classic (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, and in fact was written with Keith Richards, and Richards plays guitar on the track.
But Waits doesn’t bow down to legends, and whereas the Stones song complains about getting no satisfaction, despite trying, and trying, and trying, in Satified, Waits laments the hard times, but insists, in no uncertain terms, that satisfaction WILL be achieved before he’s gone.
Here’s the video, directed by Bob Dylan’s son, Jesse: