Eric is back for his third foray into our collection. Enjoy!
Grab your umbrella, trashcan and flask for this edition of Vinyl Profiles with E.K. because we’re going to take a journey back in time. We’re headed to the early 1980s, New York City and everything feels like Tod Browning’s 1932 masterpiece Freaks being performed by transients in a local junkyard.
Ladies and gentlemen, the let’s take a look at the 1985 LP that guaranteed that one of California’s strangest sons would eventually end up in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. One of Team Wimmer’s favorite records, the one and only Rain Dogs by Tom Waits.
Rain Dogs was part of a legendary one/two punch by America’s gritty cult icon Tom Waits. The first punch came with Swordfishtrombones (1983) which has been considered by many as one of the most dramatic shifts in sound by any musician ever. Gone were the days of jazzy lounge sounds from a seedy bar; they were now replaced by the howls and grunts of a man that sounded like an escaped lunatic turned carney using trashcans and car parts as instruments.
Although Swordfishtrombones is fantastic, it’s Rain Dogs that holds a special place in the hearts of Maria and me. The story goes back nearly 20 years, to a time of young love, impressionable artists and the coolest art teacher on the planet. Flashback to high school art class, the teacher gives a very privileged few the rare chance to select a cassette tape from his office to play during class. Over the course of three years I can tell you I do not remember ever selecting a tape other than Rain Dogs. As you can guess, it became part of the soundtrack to our lives.
Flash forward years and years later. We are living in Denver, excelling at being professional college students. One day I was bored out of my mind and went on Craigslist to look for prostitutes and serial killers…I kid, I kid! I went looking for vinyl records and I found an ad from some young female college student (immediate serial killer red flag, am I right?). She said she moved into a house and in the garage was a crate of old vinyl, everything $1.00. Wait, $1.00??? That’s within my budget! I kissed my wife goodbye and headed to the serial killer’s house. Being an extreme introvert, I sat outside her home debating whether or not I could get up the courage to approach a stranger. Well…I did! Turns out she was actually a she, a young, sweet college student, not after blood. She took me to the vinyls and it was the holy grail of Tom Waits!!! Several albums, $1.00 each. What else can I say? I’m so glad I’m outgoing and trust in the goodness of humanity.
So there you have it. You learned zero about the music on this record, but did learn about a very charming story involving Maria and myself. You’re welcome.