Sometimes Grammy does good. Unlike say when they award Jethro Tull “Best Hard Rock/Metal” performance. Yes, because nothing says metal like a flute solo.

It was 17 years ago that Tom Waits’ “Mule Variations” won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Not sure if this is folk but I’ll give The Grammys a pass as they gave Tom Waits one…so any way that can happen I vote for that.

I know that Tom Waits isn’t for everyone and that may be one of the numerous reasons I love him. This album though. It’s the most accessible of his albums as a whole. Even if you don’t like Tom Waits, if you listen to the full album, you will find a song to love. A lyric. A musical moment (I don’t know how else to categorize his mad “homemade” symphony). You should find something to love.

This album does has something for everyone. Love. Loss. Sad. Drink. Family. Good. Bad. Death. Scary. Rock. Blues. I guess I should add folk (since that’s the category it won).

Mule Variations included the ragged racket of “Bone Machine” but adds a bit of “Rain Dogs” lyricism. Plus a hint of “Swordfish” bohemian qualities. Don’t forget backstreet alleyways and backwoods blues. Something for everyone. This is the first album you should play a Tom Waits virgin. There’s plenty to “scare” the new listener on this album (to get them ready for a deeper dive). There’s plenty to love for “normal” radio listeners too.

I love this album. Also a song off this album was included many moons ago as part of our “Rock N Roll Wisdom” post.

I may just skip around a bit. I wouldn’t play every song.

Well let’s start with song number one as this song is basically everything Tom. Humor (right? Big in Japan is kinda like having a girlfriend in Canada). Noise. Big Beat. Great lyrics. Something a bit off. Blues.

This is just glorious. Remember you don’t meet nice girls in coffee shops.

For “Get Behind the Mule” check out our RnR Wisdom post.

If you cry…or drink…this song is for you.

Listen to this one with headphones on. This should be a movie short…or at least Twilight Zone episode.

This works on so many levels

This song (see above) intro is brilliant. Kinda explains how this song came about…

For your funeral

Ending the album. A booze soaked spiritual.

Let’s end with 5 minutes of Tom…

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