Tom Waits at The Catalyst Club. It was always going to happen. Word has it that Tom was on his way and then… Covid. You know the rest.
Anyway. Alex Harvey – no, not that one – has written a book called “Song Noir” that explores the formative first decade of Tom Waits’ career, when he lived, wrote and recorded nine albums in Los Angeles; from the extraordinary debut, Closing Time where he introduced his storytelling barfly persona to the even more extraordinary surreal Swordfishtrombones.
Waits mined a rich seam of the city’s low-life locations and characters, letting the place feed his dark imagination. Mixing the domestic with the mythic, he turned quotidian, autobiographical details into something more disturbing and emblematic; a vision of la as the warped, narcotic heart of his nocturnal explorations.
Using music, images and stories, Harvey will show how Waits absorbed LA’s wealth of cultural influences to combine the spoken idioms of writers like Kerouac and Bukowski with jazz-blues rhythms, and explored the city’s literary and film noir traditions to create hallucinatory dreamscapes.
Alex Harvey is a producer and director of programmes including Panorama and The Late Show for the BBC. His later films include The Lives of Animals (2002) and Enter the Jungle (2014). Based in Los Angeles, he regularly writes on literature, film and music for London Review of Books and LA Review of Books.
The Latest Bar, Manchester Street
Wednesday August 3, 8pm