“I’m drowning…drowning in the sea of love”
There is so much to be said about the artistry of Tom Waits. His work has so many dimensions that it is difficult to put into words the depths to which his songwriting and musical stylings can go to. His work as a ‘covers’ artist is almost nonexistent; he almost exclusively records and plays only his own compositions. It is his music that is usually covered by other artists to great effect i.e. Springsteen, Rod Stewart, The Eagles. In this case, he has recorded a classic soul ballad in such a strikingly bizarre way that it really becomes a different song altogether.
Available only on the soundtrack to the 1989 Al Pacino thriller ‘Sea of Love’ , it finally became available on CD in 2006 on the 3 disc rarities collection “Orphans”. The song was written and recorded by John Phillip Baptiste in 1959, becoming his only charting hit. While most songs on this collection are generally unknown, I would classify the Tom Waits version among them as it differs musically in such a way that most who hear the song think it is an original composition. The drums, skewed guitar soloing and howling vocals remind you of a Alan Lomax field recording from some unknown artist in an unknown part of the world. It is almost otherwordly. This will not surprise those who follow the music of Tom Waits, but for someone seeking an intro to the man, this is a great place to start.