Getting Started with Tom Waits

I believe my musical tastes are finally matured such that I can finally appreciate Tom Waits. I asked my friends where I should start. These are my notes from those comments.

Places to Start

These albums were mentioned as good starting points for the Tom Waits newbie.

  • Closing Time
  • Rain Dogs
  • Swordfishtrombones
  • Nighthawks at the Diner

Recommended Progressions

  • “Swordfish Trombones, Rain Dogs, Frank’s Wild Years, Bone Machine”
  • “My recommendation is to start at the beginning with Closing Time and work your way forward in time. Generally speaking the earlier stuff tends to be more digestible to folks.”
  • “Start with Nighthawks and Small Change…then Rain Dogs, Swordfishtrombones, Franks Wild Years, Mule Variations, Bone Machine. Expect to listen for awhile before you love him…but once he nestles into your bones, you will be glad you did.”
  • “My suggestion is Rain Dogs then Foreign Affair then Mule Variations. I’d use Big Time as a nostalgic look back after you digested those.”
  • “Just rewatch The Wire and listen to the intro every episode.”

Mentioned Favorite Albums

These were mentioned as favorite albums (not necessarily best starting points, but could be).

  • Frank’s Wild Years
  • Rain Dogs
  • Small Change
  • Mule Variations


This film and soundtrack were recommended: Big Time


For the other map nerds (not my work)