When Johnny Cash passed away, the title of Coolest Man Alive fell to a former Coast Guardsman/dishwasher/nightclub singer named Thomas Alan Waits. Notoriously enigmatic with journalists, the curtain of Waits' vaudevillian persona has been pulled back ever so slightly lately with the publication Innocent When You Dream: The Tom Waits Reader a few years ago and distinct traces of sincerity in interviews like this one. Now veteran journalist (and occasional Paste writer) Barney Hoskyns has a new biography on the way. Low Side of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits is due out May 19 on Broadway Books.
Why now? "Only a lifelong love of the man's work and schtick, and the
belief that someone needed to know deeper and wider with his story than
his previous biographers had," Hoskyns tells Pasteamount written on Bob Dylan it seemed patently wrong that there wasn't
a big book on Tom that went to primary sources who've known and worked
Hoskyns first wrote a proposal for a Waits bio back in 1991, tentatively called Sucker On The Vine: Tom Waits in Tinseltown, but shelved the idea after working on his history of rock in Los Angeles, Waiting For the Sun.
Waits and his wife, Kathleen Brennan, were less than cooperative,
Hoskyns says, but the 640-page book still includes interviews with many
of their collaborators over the years.
"My gut intuitions about the man were confirmed by stories of his
complex psyche, his arrested self-destructiveness, his diligence and
seriousness as an artist, and his essential honourableness," says Hoskyns. "If I was
surprised by anything it was just how low he got emotionally in the
Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits on Amazon
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