The Best Tom Waits quotes

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It’s not often that you come across an artist who defies description. Tom Waits is one of those rare cases. His music is a unique mix of jazz, blues, and cabaret that has earned him a cult following around the world. Despite his success, Waits has always remained true to himself and his music, refusing to compromise his vision or artistry. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the life and career of Tom Waits, and explore why he remains one of the most unique and successful artists in history.

Here are the deepest Music, Time, Life, Songs, Sound quotes from Tom Waits, and much more.


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About Tom Waits

birth of the author

December 7, 1949

occupation of the author

Singer-Songwriter, Musician, Actor, Composer

date of the author

Years Active:

genre of the author

Blues, Experimental, Jazz, Rock

instrument of the author

Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Harmonium

institution of the author

Asylum, Island, Anti-

website of the author



I didn’t really identify with the music of my own generation, but I was very curious about the music of others. — Tom Waits

I like my music with the rinds and the seeds and pulp left in. — Tom Waits

But it’s so hard to dance that way when it’s cold and there’s no music. — Tom Waits


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It’s terrible for the culture of music. Like anything that is purely economic, it ignores the most important component. — Tom Waits

i like my music with the rinds and the seeds and pulp left in Tom Waits quote

Words are music, really. — Tom Waits

With families and music, you’re usually looking for something that can make you unique. — Tom Waits

Music has generally involved a lot of awkward contraptions, a certain amount of heavy lifting. — Tom Waits

Sometimes words are just music themselves. Like ‘Chicago’ is a very musical sounding name. — Tom Waits

I never looked at music as a serious ven­ture. There was very little encouragement from my family. I didn’t have anybody to entertain, so it was hard to get motivated. — Tom Waits

but it s so hard to dance that way when it s cold and there s no music Tom Waits quote

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 think this whole division between the genres has more to do with marketing than anything else. It’s terrible for the culture of music. — Tom Waits

The Universe is making music all the time. — Tom Waits

I’m always looking for sounds that are pleasing at the time. The sound of a helicopter is really annoying until you’re drowning, and it’s there to rescue you. Then it sounds like music. — Tom Waits

Popular music is like a big party, and it’s a thrill sneaking in rather than being invited. Every once in a while, a guy with his shirt on inside out, wearing lipstick and a pillbox hat gets a chance to speak. — Tom Waits

words are music really Tom Waits quote

I’m trying to get music ideas that come and keep them alive. It’s like carrying water in your hands. I want to keep it all, and sometimes by the time you get to the studio you have nothing. — 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

In terms of black music–the only music that we can call our own, that was really born here–I don’t think a lot has been done to chronicle the relations between American history and where black music fits in. — Tom Waits

Most changes in music, most exciting things that happen in music, occur through a miscommunication between people ‘I thought you said this.’ Poetry comes out of that too. — Tom Waits


As a kid, I did want to be an old–timer, since they were the ones with the big stories and the cool clothes. I wanted to go there. Now, I guess I want to bring that with me and go back in time. — Tom Waits

now it s closing time the music s fading out Tom Waits quote

Now it’s closing time/the music’s fading out. — Tom Waits

An all time favorite: ‘The large print giveth, the small print taketh away. — Tom Waits

Time is just memory Mixed in with Desire. — Tom Waits

Most of us have the residue of thousands of songs in our ears, that if you end up songwriting, I think you’re mostly smoking the residue of all that material you absorbed over time. — Tom Waits

Bringing up children was]like living with a bunch of drunks…you really have to be on your toes all the time. — Tom Waits

an all time favorite the large print giveth the small print taketh away Tom Waits quote

There’s a beauty of show business. It’s the only business you can have a career in when you’re dead. — Tom Waits


I’m usually more concerned with how things sound than how they look on the page. — 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

It’s hard to play with a bagpipe player. It’s like an exotic bird. I love the sound, it’s like strangling a goose. — Tom Waits

If you record the sound of bacon in a frying pan and play it back, it sounds like the pops and cracks on an old 33 1/3 recording. Almost exactly like that. You could substitute it for that sound. — Tom Waits

i m usually more concerned with how things sound than how they look on the page Tom Waits quote

Sometimes when you’re making songs you just make sounds, and the sounds slowly mutate and evolve into actual words that have meaning. — Tom Waits

It was a hubba, hubba, ding dang, baby you are just everythang. — Tom Waits

Redundant Thematics

In Tom Waits Statements


I have an audio stigmatism whereby I hear things wrong–I have audio illusions. — Tom Waits

I’m so horny the crack of dawn better watch out. — Tom Waits


Songs are really just very interesting things to be doing with the air. — Tom Waits

songs are really just very interesting things to be doing with the air Tom Waits quote

Sometimes the magnetism of a song is impossible to ignore, and it demands that it be sung in a certain way. — Tom Waits

People make songs so that somebody else will hear them and want to do them. I guess it’s an indication that the songs aren’t so ultra–personal that they can’t possibly be interpreted by anyone else. — Tom Waits

It’s rather mystifying when you think about writing songs–where they come from, and how they’re born. — Tom Waits

Most songs that aren’t jump–rope songs, or lullabies, are cautionary tales or goodbye songs and road songs. — 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

I always thought songs are movies for the ears and films are like songs for the eyes. — Tom Waits

I don’t like hearing Beatles songs in commercials. It almost renders them useless. I think, ‘Oh God, another one bites the dust.’ — Tom Waits

Some day I’m gonna be gone and people will be listening to my songs and conjuring me up. In order for that to happen, you gotta put something of yourself in it. — Tom Waits

Writing songs is like capturing birds without killing them. Sometimes you end up with nothing but a mouthful of feathers. — 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


The ocean doesn’t want me today, But I’ll come back tomorrow to play. The riptide is waging And the life guard’s away But the ocean doesn’t want me today — Tom Waits

The fact is most of the things that people know about me are made up. My own life is backstage. So what you ‘know’ about me is only what I allowed you to know about me. — Tom Waits

I finally discovered that my life is more important than show business. — Tom Waits

People get frightened that success is going to take them out of life. They’re no longer going to be on the corner of Bedlam and Squalor; life will only be something you can get through the mail. — 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 finally discovered that my life is more important than show business Tom Waits quote

I’m not fighting for justice. I am not fighting for freedom. I am fighting for my life and another day in the world here. — Tom Waits

I don’t think that you should be per­fectly candid and frank about the intimate details of your personal life with the public at large. Subsequently, it creates consider­able personal problems. — Tom Waits

Photos are profound because they have such short lives. They are more like fingerprints, dead leaves, rain puddles, or the corpses of flies. — Tom Waits

I look for things that are left of center, something you’ve only seen your whole life, but never heard. Hit it! With a stick! I have a guitar made out of a 2×4 that I bought in Cleveland. — Tom Waits

There’s nothing that makes me laugh more than being in the situation where you’re not supposed to laugh. Funerals. People crying. Breaking down. Telling you their life. I’m the worst. I’m the worst at that. — Tom Waits

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