Monday, 9 December 2019

Cover Me Monday #3: Hold On

Hard as it may be to believe, I know that there are some people reading this who just can't get on board the Tom Waits rollercoaster. It's the voice, I know. All those years gargling with whiskey and razor-blades takes its toll. That voice is Marmite - you either love it or hate it. (I have a Billy Bragg sticker on the noticeboard in front of me in which Billy compares himself to Marmite. But Billy is Blueberry Jam compared to Tom Waits.)

Curiously, I'm rather ambivalent about Marmite myself. I don't really care for it on toast, but I do like Marmite flavoured cashew nuts - very more-ish.

Anyway, whether you like Tom's voice or not (I do), you must surely agree that he's written some fine songs. Many of them are collected on this new covers album, Women Sing Waits, and I think it's fair to say that all of the ladies present have more mellifluous voices than old Tom... although that doesn't mean their covers are better than the originals. Strange world isn't it? Still, with Phoebe Bridgers, Roseanne Cash, Iris DeMent, Corinne Bailey-Rae and Courtney Marie Andrews among the sirens gathered to pay tribute to Tom, you're guaranteed some quality renditions, whatever your views on Marmite.

Special mention to Allison Moorer & Shelby Lynne's cover of Ol' 55, a song English teachers everywhere admire because it's where Tom invents the adverb "lickety-splitly": undeniable genius.

The highlight of this collection for me though is the Aimee Mann cover of Hold On. Here's Tom with the original...

Tom turned 70 last week, by the way. You may find that hard to believe as he's sounded 90 for most of his life...

They hung a sign up in our town
"If you live it up, you won't live it down"

Well, go ahead and call the cops
You don't meet nice girls in coffee shops

And now, here's Aimee...


  1. For me, Tom has one of the great expressive voices in all music, up there with the likes of Dylan, Prince Far-I, Blind Willie Johnson, Howlin' Wolf and Captain Beefheart. His early work was good, but he really hit his creative stride with 'Swordfishtrombones' and the nigh-on impeccable 'Rain Dogs'. Hard to believe that it's been 8 years since 'Bad as Me'. Come on Tom, pull your finger out.

  2. An impressive list of collaborators there Rol
    I've tried but still struggle with Mr Waits

  3. I liked Tom Waits voice before he started sounding like Christian Bale's growly Batman.

    As for "Women Sing Waits" - Ol' 55 by Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer sounds a bit Eagles-ish, but that's not a problem. I'm not at all keen on Corinne Bailey Rae's version of Jersey Girl. Tommy's original was second only to Brucie baby's cover.
    Downtown Train by Courtney Marie Andrews is fine. It's an album I could live with.

  4. Covering Tom Waits is a fine idea for reasons you mentioned, his vocal is divisive yet he's a great songwriter. I assume 1 or 2 of Scarlett Johansson's covers are on Women Sing Waits. If not, should be!


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