Beneath the Covers:: Tom Waits vs. 3rd Bass and Foundation

Lately, I’ve been completely immersed in Tom Waits. I’ve been looping through all his eras; the beat-poet troubadour (the 70’s); the Frank Wild Years trilogy; the clanking percussion experimentation. I forgot how much I loved his early work, but I also forgot how amazing his transformation as an artist and a person has been. I won’t be the first to say that Waits truly was what he sang about, a drunken street urchin that made you wonder if he spoke in fact or fiction, but he evolved and aged into an interesting interview, a family man, a recluse. He’s a fascinating man, and equally fascinating as a musician.

Way Down in the Hole - Tom Waits
So, I’ve picked two tracks by Tom that were covered by completely different artists. The first is fitting, as herohill almost never formed because of this click. 3rd Bass was just dropping the Gas Face on us, introducing us to KMD (MF Doom for all you hip hop hipsters) and Shane scored the tape on a pilgrimage to Mecca (or his dad went to Boston and Shane made his pops go crate diggin’). Anyway, he wouldn’t let me high-speed dub the tape, so I thought he was a bit of a douche.

Tom Waits:: Way Down in the Hole
The jazzy skat of Way Down in the Hole is addictive in its simplicity. It’s made to be sampled and Waits spiritual crone fits perfectly. For the most part, the song is really just a horn and some maracas. He adds an odd guitar solo to the mix that doesn’t really sound like it should be part of the song, but works nicely. This is one of my favorite tracks off of Frank’s Wild Year’s.

3rd Bass:: Flippin’ off the Wall Like Lucy Ball (Way Down in the Hole)
It takes a bunch of smart asses to loop a beat completely and then make fun of the track, but that’s what 3rd Bass did on this interlude. So much so that Tom sued them for using it, which puts them in good company (he also sued Doritos for hiring a Waits impersonator to basically create a Waits sounding “corn chip sermon”). Serch basically tries to make fun of Wait’s voice and cracks up the whole time. It’s one of the most enjoyable interludes in hip hop history, and he uses the classic lines “I got soul, coming out my asshole” and “when you grow up you gonna work with a whole lotta white people that think their black.”

Overall, the nod has to go to Waits. Not much to argue on this one.

Old Shoes (& Picture Postcards) - Tom Waits
But, we aren’t done. I also grabbed another Waits cover from a completely different era. When Waits started out, he was much more interested in tinkering on a piano with a notebook full of beat poetry. He was more concerned with melody he composed some songs that almost bordered on accessible. His music was turning heads, as people like the Eagles, Joni Mitchell and Elton John were fans.

Old Shoes:: Tom Waits
Taken from Closing Time, this is a style of Tom Waits that maybe casual fans don’t recognize. It’s a simple, straight ahead acoustic riff with some drums and Waits voice sounds so different. Its years before the affects of the drink and smoking Viceroys hit Waits (or more accurately, before he found the voice he wanted to sing in). The backing harmonies also add another layer to this track hat are long since gone from Waits repertoire.

Old Shoes:: Foundation
Rob Huddleston of Ann Beretta was one of the first punk rockers to jump away from the electric guitars and grab a stool and acoustic. His side-project, Foundation, is one of Nic’s all-time favorite records and he adds Old Shoes as a sincere tribute to an artist he loves. He stays pretty true to the original version of the song, and his voice fits the mix nicely. It’s worth checking out, simply because the record itself is great.

Again, as in most cases, Waits wins.

@ 1:45 AM, House kicked the following game:

I thought we were going to see some Rod Stewart for a second there...


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