[Tom Waits interview in Carbondale 1979]

Interview with Tom Waits backstage at Shryock Auditorium in Carbondale, IL. Municipal forum in Carbondale follows the interview on the tape.

0:07Copy video clip URL Title card: “Tom Waits Shryock Auditorium, Oct 9 ’79.” Waits’s song “Step Right Up” plays.

1:55Copy video clip URL Interview begins with an introduction from producer and interviewer Phil Ranstrom. He asks Waits: “What you are trying to do artistically, how you see yourself, how you do it?” Waits: “Well, yeah, I guess I fancy myself a story teller, y’know? Kind of a, bit of a night watchman or private investigator, y’know? I sleep with one eye open…I write about the things I see around me.”

3:11Copy video clip URL Ranstrom: “I was reading an article from Ricky Lee Jones, she was saying you have become that person…you became that character you talk about in your songs through living it through having to live it as an artist.” Waits: “She’s right! It’s a dangerous business, y’know?…It’s kind of like a photographer going to a wedding and ending up married…You’re bound to get a little on ya…I remain in all the stories, but at the same time I think the creative process is like gumbo, it’s a combination of imagination, experience, memories…”

5:45Copy video clip URL Ranstrom: “Which came first for you in your creative growing? Were you first a musician or a poet?”¬† Waits: “I was first a dishwasher and a cook…my lasagna was talked about all over town.”

6:19Copy video clip URL Ranstrom: “Have you ever been busted? Waits: “Yes, I’ve been busted!” They discuss how often Waits sees other poets and acts. Waits describes how busy he is: “When you got a couple of nights off you don’t really want to go to a club.”

9:16Copy video clip URL Waits talks about how best to unwind when he’s home in LA. He talks about Rickie Lee Jones. He gestures that, even though he is busy, he feels strong.

12:23Copy video clip URL About being in the public eye: “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”

12:31Copy video clip URL Ranstrom: “Can you write when you’re on the road?” Waits: “I am writing right now…it’s called Heartattack and Vine.” He describes the albums, sounds more like James Brown and the Famous Flames: “I gotta shake this whole wino image.”

13:40Copy video clip URL Ranstrom asks about influences, guidance. Waits: “I do everything [my doctor] tells me!” He refuses to answer the question and bemoans, tongue-in-cheek, the degeneration of the moral fiber of America’s youth.

14:36Copy video clip URL Ranstrom: “Do you have a philosophy or tenets about writing, composing, observing?” Waits: “Never sleep with a girl named Ruby, never play pool with a guy named Fats.” Waits says he plays a little pool. They talk about his upcoming album and tours.

16:13Copy video clip URL Ranstrom: “Who is one historical figure you would have liked to be?” Waits: “Castro maybe. Andy Granatelli.”

17:01Copy video clip URL Ranstrom: “What did you do when you were younger…any one revelation..?” Waits: “No, it was nothing like that…not nearly as romantic as that. I just narrowed it down…everything else looked really unattractive to me. I’m a living breathing example of success without college.” He talks about personality conflicts with his instructors in high school: “I didn’t know whether I wanted to become a professor or a hood. I’m somewhere in between right now.” Waits discusses the culture of school: “For education, you can learn all there is to offer in the structure of a curriculum you can learn on your own if you have enough discipline.”

20:04Copy video clip URL Ranstrom: “What do you read?” Waits: “I like detective novels and stuff. This guy Richard Price…Hubery Selby Jr…”

20:44Copy video clip URL Ranstrom: “In your younger childhood were you the same street person…that you talk about now? Waits: “I stayed home when I was a child. I wasn’t out on the streets when I was a little boy…I had a normal childhood. My father’s a teacher and my mother’s also a teacher. They split up when I was about ten years old, and I become the man of the family…”

22:14Copy video clip URL Interview ends. Ranstrom offers Waits the last bit of whiskey.

22:46Copy video clip URL Credits.

23:20Copy video clip URL Cut back to Waits and ROTH. Music is playing overhead. End of interview.

25:27Copy video clip URL Cut to debate for mayor in Carbondale. General forum including utilities, railroad ordinances, commercial expansion, and the structure of government.

57:07Copy video clip URL Audio production outtakes.

 

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