Tom Waits quotes

Born
December 7, 1949, Pomona, California, U.S.

Occupation
Singer, songwriter, musician.

Tom Waits is an American singer, songwriter and musician.

When I was younger, I wanted to be older. Now I am older, I am not quite so sure.
– Tom Waits
The big print giveth and the small print taketh away.
– Tom Waits
George Burns was a Vaudeville performer I particularly loved.
– Tom Waits
Champagne for my real friends and real pain for my sham friends.
– Tom Waits
I do like books on anatomy. I have to say I’m an amateur physician, I guess.
– Tom Waits
I don’t really like listening to the radio so much.
– Tom Waits
If you are recording, you are recording. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a demo or a temporary vocal.
– Tom Waits
I don’t like listening to records a lot after they’re done. There’s just no real nourishment there for me.
– Tom Waits
I guess I’ve always lived upside down when I want things I can’t have.
– Tom Waits
Their memory’s like a train: you can see it getting smaller as it pulls away And the things you can’t remember Tell the things you can’t forget that History puts a saint in every dream.
– Tom Waits
There’s not much difference between what I appear to be on stage and what I am. I think people like that, that I’m not trying to pull a caper.
– Tom Waits
Most songs that aren’t jump-rope songs, or lullabies, are cautionary tales or goodbye songs and road songs.
– Tom Waits
Any image I have, it’s just what I do, but it comes off as being very pretentious. When you’re a bit in the public astigmatism, anything you do seems like you did it so somebody would see you do it, like showing up at the right parties.
– Tom Waits
What you want is for music to love you back. That’s why you pay your dues. You want to feel like you belong and are part of this symbiosis, metamorphosis, whatever you want to call it.
– Tom Waits
I don’t know if any genuine, meaningful change could ever result from a song. It’s kind of like throwing peanuts at a gorilla.
– Tom Waits
I think all songs should have weather in them. Names of towns and streets, and they should have a couple of sailors. I think those are just song prerequisites.
– Tom Waits
It’s hard to win when you always lose.
– Tom Waits
For a songwriter, you don’t really go to songwriting school; you learn by listening to tunes. And you try to understand them and take them apart and see what they’re made of, and wonder if you can make one, too.
– Tom Waits
I’m so horny the crack of dawn better watch out.
– Tom Waits
I saw a crow building a nest, I was watching him very carefully, I was kind of stalking him and he was aware of it. And you know what they do when they become aware of someone stalking them when they build a nest, which is a very vulnerable place to be? They build a decoy nest. It’s just for you.
– Tom Waits
You almost have to create situations in order to write about them, so I live in a constant state of self-imposed poverty. I don’t want to live any other way.
– Tom Waits
When you’re writing, you’re conjuring. It’s a ritual, and you need to be brave and respectful and sometimes get out of the way of whatever it is that you’re inviting into the room.
– Tom Waits
Somebody said I sound like an old lady, and I was really insulted by that. I’m trying to sound like Skip James and Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye.
– Tom Waits
But then I’m one of those guys that is still a bit afraid of the telephone, its implications for conversation. I still wonder if the jukebox might be the death of live music.
– Tom Waits
I hate Disneyland. It primes our kids for Las Vegas.
– Tom Waits
The sight of the first woman in the minimal two-piece was as explosive as the detonation of the atomic bomb by the U.S. at Bikini Island in the Marshall Isles, hence the naming of the bikini.
– Tom Waits
Writing songs is like capturing birds without killing them. Sometimes you end up with nothing but a mouthful of feathers.
– Tom Waits
Don’t look back, because someone might be gaining on you.
– Tom Waits
Songs really are like a form of time travel because they really have moved forward in a bubble. Everyone who’s connected with it, the studio’s gone, the musicians are gone, and the only thing that’s left is this recording which was only about a three-minute period maybe 70 years ago.
– Tom Waits
Mostly, I straddle reality and the imagination. My reality needs imagination like a bulb needs a socket. My imagination needs reality like a blind man needs a cane.
– Tom Waits
I’m usually more concerned with how things sound than how they look on the page. Some people write for the page, and that’s a whole other thing. I’m going for what it sounds like right away, so it may not even look good on the page.
– Tom Waits
I’m one of those guys that is still a bit afraid of the telephone, its implications for conversation. I still wonder if the jukebox might be the death of live music.
– Tom Waits
I’d rather have a free bottle in front of me than a prefrontal lobotomy.
– Tom Waits
Don’t you know there ain’t no devil, it’s just god when he’s drunk.
– Tom Waits
My reality needs imagination like a bulb needs a socket. My imagination needs reality like a blind man needs a cane.
– Tom Waits
Most people don’t care if you’re telling them the truth or if you’re telling them a lie, as long as they’re entertained by it.
– Tom Waits
I always liked the idea that America is a big facade. We are all insects crawling across on the shiny hood of a Cadillac. We’re all looking at the wrapping. But we won’t tear the wrapping to see what lies beneath.
– Tom Waits
If you’re in the middle of the ocean with no flippers and no life preserver and you hear a helicopter, this is music. You have to adjust to your needs at the moment.
– Tom Waits
I always had a great appreciation for jazz, but I’m a very pedestrian musician. I get by. I like to think that my main instrument is vocabulary.
– Tom Waits
You hope people are going to be listening to you after you’re gone. And they like you better after you’re gone.
– Tom Waits