[Painting by Alyssa Monks]
Found this over at Longform–a 1988 Interview magazine conversation with Tom Waits.
Here’s the one on Tom Waits:
“My kids are starting to notice I’m a little different from the other dads. ‘Why don’t you have a straight job like everyone else?’ they asked me the other day.
I told them this story: ‘In the forest, there was a crooked tree and a straight tree. Every day, the straight tree would say to the crooked tree, “Look at me… I’m tall, and I’m straight, and I’m handsome. Look at you… you’re all crooked and bent over. No one wants to look at you.” And they grew up in that forest together.
And then one day the loggers came, and they saw the crooked tree and the straight tree, and they said, “Just cut the straight trees and leave the rest.” So the loggers turned all the straight trees into lumber and toothpicks and paper. And the crooked tree is still there, growing stronger and stranger every day.’”
And Wong Kar-Wai:
“Cinema has certain qualities, and it’s the image. Sometimes this image has its own breathing or tempo. It has to linger, and will linger because you want to have more. It is very instinctive. It is very instinctive when you’re shooting the shots in front of this video, the monitor, you know exactly, because sometimes it takes you more than 10 takes or 15 takes… Afterwards, the most enjoyable part is the final weeks. That means you put everything together, the sound, the images and everything to create a film… it’s beyond words… I think one of the reasons you keep making films is because you want to experience that part again and again.”
“If you break open a song, you’ll find the eggs of other songs,” he told me. “Misunderstandings are really kind of an epidemic and acceptable. I think it’s about one thing, but someone else will say, ‘That song is kind of a rhino in hot pants on a burnt rocking horse with a lariat shouting, “Repent, repent!” ’ I think that’s great.”
…In the past thirty years, Waits, as a songwriter, has tried to retain a sense of craft while finding musical settings that take his compositions out of some nostalgic tar pit. On “Bad as Me,” he sounds like someone who knows the history of pop and uses only the bits he needs to make the hybrid creature that will carry him to safety. “I’m always looking for sounds that are pleasing at the time,” he told me. “The sound of a helicopter is really annoying until you’re drowning, and it’s there to rescue you. Then it sounds like music.”
I love the part about sounds changing their meaning. Wonderful.