Fox on Film... and Entertainment
BAD AS ME
America’s musical landscape is rapidly changing. This is not always a good thing. The internet is an electronic intravenous, providing a constant flow of sounds and images, whether moving images, still photos, and words or prose, on a page that floats and moves, literally glowing in the dark. It’s influence on music is immeasurable. The evolution of technologies, once born and then developed in the cyberage, have touched (or maybe, engulfed?) every major act in rock and roll, hip hop, country, and virtually every genre of popular music. Imagery generated by music artists, borne during the early days of MTV, evolved concurrently with the explosion of cyber space.
As the process evolves, music that begins as organic, and remains that way throughout the production, have become increasingly scarce. This is not what the billion plus advocates of the cyber driven art-musicfilm-culture would have one believe. The argument runs that technology makes “all forms” of art “more accessible." Yet, it’s evolution embraces, and thereby promotes, a world that is virtual,
not literal. Imagery that is morphed, altered and filtered as opposed to flat, grainy and otherwise untouched. Sounds which are micro-managed, generated by increasingly complex, and ever evolving computer technologies. In contrast to organic sound and vision, artists increasingly find themselves dependent upon, and, ultimately, enslaved by, the unbridled expansion of the artificial. To not adapt is to
die; certain death by an apparatus that now largely dictates art, instead of the other way around. It is at the apex of this dilemma that the genius of Tom Waits can be found. The delivery of his latest work, Bad as Me, reaches us at this moment of fury. Waits has always possessed the gift of being able to get right to the heart of things-when hasn’t he?- on Bad as Me. On the opening tune, Chicago, the lyrics: “The seeds are planted here, but they won’t grow. We won’t have to say goodbye, if we all go”, travel atop the drum beat of his son Casey, working with his Dad on the album, and obviously influenced by the Charlie Watts-Steve Jordan minimal school of rhythm. Also appearing on the album are the formidable blues legend Charlie Musselwhite, and Rolling Stone/ Expensive Wino/onscreen and offscreen Pirate Keith Richards. This dream combination have produced a convergence of sounds that employ organic instruments, (a tuba, pump organ, accordion and tablas, added to the vox guitars and harmonicas that are a staple on any Waits album) to produce organic sounds, which deliver organic messages and tell stories that are equally primal, guttural, yet poignant. But in every example, the result is that the songs are equally exhilarating in message, tone and delivery. Waits addresses the current state of things in a way that is more straightforward and unapologetic than any of his previous works. He jumps right into a commentary on the state of the returning soldier on Hell Broke Luce: “I had a good home but I left. I had a good home but I left, right, left. That big fucking bomb made me deaf, deaf…listen to the general every goddam word, how many ways can you polish
Published on Jul 1, 2012
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