Rhino’s Got You Covered: Tim Buckley, BulletBoys, Keith Carradine, and John Campbell
It’s Wednesday, so it must be time to take another dip into the Rhino catalog and trot out a new quartet of cover songs that you may or may not have heard before. Let’s get started, shall we? This week, it’s a four-pack of Tom Waits tunes!
• Tim Buckley, “Martha” (1973): For as magnificent as many of his original compositions were, Buckley often enjoyed interpreting the work of other songwriters. For instance, in addition to including this Waits cover, Buckley’s 1973 album SEFRONIA opens with his classic take on Fred Neil’s “Dolphins.”
• BulletBoys, “Hang On St. Christopher” (1991): This track made its debut as the opening track on Waits’ 1987 album FRANKS WILD YEARS, and it was covered by Rod Stewart for his 1995 album A SPANNER IN THE WORKS. Stewart, however, has all but made a cottage industry out of covering Waits tunes, so we thought we’d offer a more unexpected version of the song. Seriously, who would’ve expected a Tom tune by the BulletBoys?
• Keith Carradine, “San Diego Serenade” (1978): Carradine co-starred with Waits in the 1989 movie Cold Feet, but he was a fan of his music for many years before that, and in an interview with the A.V. Club, Carradine talked about the first time he ever crossed paths with Waits:
“The first time we met, he was doing a gig at McCabe’s [Guitar Shop], and I went to see his concert because I had heard his first record and was a huge fan. I’m trying to remember the name of the folk artist who was on before him, but I wasn’t too interested in her, so I was just kind of hanging out in the guitar shop. And he was out there, so I went over to say hi. I said, ‘Hey, I’m here to see your show, man.’ And he said, ‘Hey, I know you!’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m…’ He said, ‘No, no, no, no. I know you. Don’t tell me. Don’t tell me where. I know you. Where’d you go to high school?’ I said, ‘No, I’m…’ ‘Are you from San Diego?’ ’Cause that’s where he’s from. I said, ‘No,’ and he said, ‘Don’t tell me!’ I said, ‘Well, anyhow, I’m really looking forward to hearing our set. I’m a big fan.’
“I walked away, and then he came over to me and said, ‘Cigaret!’ I said, ‘Yeah?’ He said, ‘Cigaret, man. I drove 90 miles to see that movie when it first came out.’ And he recognized me as playing Cigaret in Emperor Of The North! He was very interested in that world and that genre, that kind of American folklore. And Lee Marvin was very knowledgeable about that period of time in American history. When he was a kid, he lived through it: the ‘black shadow,’ as it was called, it was all these homeless, itinerant workers who sort of moved from east to west, and a lot of them rode the rails. Tom Waits, he’s kind of a sociologist, you know? He’s very, very interested in all of those kinds of aspects in American culture, so he was very interested in that movie and drove a long way to go see it when it came out.”
• John Campbell, “Down in the Hole” (1993): Most people know this Waits song from its usage as the theme song for HBO’s The Wire, but that version is by the Blind Boys of Alabama, whereas this version is decidedly more ragged. Not as ragged as Waits’ original version, mind you, which sounds like his vocal chords were being shredded by demons while he was recording it, but it’s certainly rougher around the edges than the Blind Boys’ version, anyway.