There was no stopping Tom Waits' train for '80s hipsters
Our Twin Cities correspondent Dr. Dim returns today with another installment of his "Never Found in the '80s series.
Musicians and musical hipsters found singer/songwriter/composer/actor Tom Waits in our favorite decade, but his blend of whiskey-soaked, croak-throated blues, jazz, rock, and folk music was just too way out there to grace the American Top 40 chart. A native Californian, Waits bent genres and pushed boundaries with each of his 17 studio albums. And... I never really cared for his music that much.
But I do really like today's tune: Downtown Train. This song is off Waits' critically acclaimed album Rain Dogs (1985). Downtown Train caught the ear of other musicians, some of who quickly released their own versions. Country artist Mary Chapin Carpenter and Stuck in the '80s favorite Patty Smyth both released their covers in 1987. The most familiar (and most disliked by me) version of this song was released in 1989 by Rod Stewart. That version was a hit. It reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and garnered Stewart a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal performance.
The original is the best.
Waits has also had a respectable acting career. He's worked with such directors as Jim Jarmusch. Robert Altman, and Francis Ford Coppola. He's composed music for film and was nominated for an Academy Award for 1982's One from the Heart. Musically he's been pretty quiet of late. He hasn't released a new album since 2011 and hasn't done a major tour since 2008.
- Jim ‘Dr. Dim' Fitzsimons