TOM WAITS - “RAIN DOGS”
DIGITAL TO ANALOG
Today I bought this wonderful LP at a second hand record store (together with Neil Young’s "Harvest" and Stanley Turrentine’s "West Side Highway").
After losing 90% of my digital music collection (because of some over-multitasking computer updating & formatting action) and some moments of grief, I decided to take a step “back” into the analog world, where things like that could only be caused by a fire.
I already moved turntables & vinyl to the living room some months ago (after I neglected them in the study for too long). And since my shitty digital USB car radio is slowly dying I dug out my old tape car radio, bought the last tapes I could get in town and dusted off the double tapedeck. Hello, good old times of actually listening and not switching through an album, vinyl crackle, tape saturation and beautiful cover artwork!
I put "Rain Dogs" on and took a look at the back cover, when I read "Photograph by Robert Frank 1985." I love that: great music combined with great photography (just like the old Blue Note records)!
The back cover photograph was taken by Robert Frank in Tompkins Square Park, NYC, in 1985. Ted Barron, who studied at the School of Visual Arts at that time, "was out walking in the neighborhood. I was just cutting through Tompkins Square Park and walked up to this scene, and I immediately recognized Robert Frank, because at that point I was probably looking at his photographs every day. I realized who he was photographing, and I made a few photographs while I was watching. I didn’t want to be in the way, and I didn’t want to become part of what was going on." (Ted Barron)
I found a few other great shots of that day and interviews with Tom Waits and Robert Frank talking about the shooting:
"I was trying to imagine myself as a real New Yorker, and I was having a hard time. My wife was pregnant with our second child; we were living down on 14th Street over a Cuban-Chinese restaurant. But at that moment, I was busting at the seams that Robert Frank was photographing me. I just thought, Shoot me now.
The record was called ‘Rain Dogs,’ so we were expecting to find a rainy day, which we did not find. But we found the one rain puddle in the whole park, and I’m kind of down there like a dog. Maybe that was the idea: I’m gonna get down on the dog’s level, and then Robert would get there at a dog’s level with me.
Anyway, I don’t know why people in music seem to want to squat down. Maybe we just want to feel close to the earth. I’m still down there, actually. I’m squatting right now.”
"I think he saw that puddle, and it was his idea to sit there. Tom’s comfortable that way, and it’s a good angle. I think he’s very aware when he’s being photographed — the stance he takes, the way he moves and the way the picture is going to be. That’s one of his favorite positions anyhow. When he comes in the room, he sits like that."
The front cover photograph of Tom Waits’ 1985 album "Rain Dogs" is one of a series taken by the Swedish photographer Anders Petersen at Café Lehmitz (a café near the Hamburg red-light boulevard Reeperbahn) in the late 1960s. The man and woman depicted on the cover are called Rose and Lily.
Read more about Petersen’s photobook "Café Lehmitz" in one of my next posts.
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DOWN BY LAW
Here’s one of my favourite songs of the record, used for the soundtrack of Jim Jarmusch’ fantastic movie “Down by Law” (with Tom Waits, Roberto Benigni & John Lurie):
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