I’ve been listening to Tom Waits on and off for maybe the last 30 years. Not obsessively, mind you; more whenever the mood takes me.

The mood in question is typically one of sadness and weltschmerz. I’ve encountered it much less frequently in recent years, which is a good thing overall. Still, when I stumbled across a 2023 remaster of Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs a few days ago, the feelings were still all there, and the memories came back.

I’m not sure if it’s due to the better audio quality of the remaster or my growing maturity as a person, but all of a sudden it hit me what a great album this is.

Published in 1985 and wildly romantic, Rain Dogs is actually a jazz record in my book.Tom Waits and his band go for a circus atmosphere and a drunken carnival sound. Everything sways and wobbles. Just like clowns, the bumbling veneer hides the musicians’ great skill.

Or maybe it isn’t a jazz record. Who am I to judge. Who cares. It’s pure emotion, delivered with invisible precision.

I still remember how I first came across Tom Waits’ music. I was a teenager in the 90’s, and there was a boring, empty evening. One of the artsier TV channels ran Jim Jarmusch’s “Down by Law”. This has Tom Waits and Roberto Benigni acting, and Waits provided some of the music.

Immediately, I was hooked on the sound, and started chasing Waits’ records. This was before Napster, let alone Spotify, so it involved a lot of delving through different record stores, and making tough budget decisions. Well, I guess it wasn’t really the sound, but mood that I was after.

Anyway. If you’re not yet familiar with the album, or Tom Waits’ work in general, you’re in for a treat. Get a glass of something strong, pull up a chair, and just listen.