Tom Waits and tattoos…

It’s taken me a long time to conjure this one up because I did not, nor do I still, feel that I am qualified to speak of the greatness that is Tom Waits. For a long time before that long time I’d been debating this post, I had never (gasp!) really heard much of his music. A few of my art-and-writerly-minded acquaintances and friends have totally ranted and raved about him, though. Still, life rushed by me and I did not run to the record store to make a new friend in Mr. Waits.

It wasn’t until I was on the tattoo artists’ table that I began my genuine appreciation for Tom Waits. First, let me replug: and tell you Liaa is a gem. One of her reviews even said that the whole experience was made better by her music, and I have to agree. I’d recognized his velvety growl from the nights of spinning wax with friends, but my darling and hilarious mom inquired, “Who is this? It sounds like Joe Cocker’s father! I love it.”

Liaa recommended the epic album “Orphans, Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards.”

There was something about the poetry of his songs, the gravel in his voice, and the gut-wrenching wails that made me smile while the needles pressed into my skin. I was looking down at a picture of my belated cat, Snakes, cut out from last year’s Christmas card, and smiling.

For a moment, I thought that we were hearing her Pandora station but it turned out it was just her own collection of music on shuffle. “This will, ironically, feel like a long cat scratch,” she told me before the process. His voice was raw and soothing, simultaneously. The pain I felt from losing my best buddy was eased in the mourning song vocals that finally, I tuned into. I didn’t think the tattoo was bad at all, and wondered if it was a bit messed up that I was smiling the whole time. Maybe it was Tom, maybe she was watching over me, maybe it’s because I know she had a good long run of it and made my life (the hardest parts of it yet and hopefully ever) better.

There’s healing in that ragged, soulful wail. You should tune in to Tom.

No matter how you are introduced to him (maybe it was me, just now!) one thing’s for certain. Pretty soon you’ll be declaring:

Be well and rock on,



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