• Michael W. Pesses deposited What’s He Building in There? The Existential Geography of Tom Waits in the group Group logo of Cultural StudiesCultural Studies on Humanities Commons 3 years, 3 months ago

    The growl of Tom Waits is unmistakable and more so than ever in his latter works. The music is theatrical in nature; telling the tales of assorted characters and using the mellow plucking of a banjo or a cacophony of mismatched instruments to invoke the right mood for the story. His earlier albums evoke images of American working class men and women; his later evoke images of the surreal and the exotic. It is my assertion that through these latter images, Waits is making art that is overtly geographic and covertly commenting on modernity, being, dwelling, and the existentialist networks that connect the world. Through my own interpretation of the 1999 album Mule Variations I pull forth examples of existential space and place and attempt to map its soundscapes discovering a sorrowful ambivalence towards fixity and flow.