As part of the press push for Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards, a three-disc collection of new and rare Waits, the gravel-throated troubadour took a call from Pitchfork to discuss everything from Missy Elliot, the desire for vocal gravitas, and his interest “in the minutiae of things.” But the part about Scarlett is great; chances are all of us knew about her cover album before Tom did!
Pitchfork: I’m sure you know Scarlett Johannson is recording an album of your songs?
Tom Waits: Well no, I read about it in the paper.
Pitchfork: No one consulted you beforehand?
Tom Waits: No, no. But, you know, more power to her.
Pitchfork: Are you excited to hear it?
Tom Waits: I don’t know if I’m excited to hear it, but I’m curious. People make songs so that somebody else will hear them and want to do them. I guess it’s an indication that the songs aren’t so ultra-personal that they can’t possibly be interpreted by anyone else. I’ve seen her in movies. I don’t know what she’s going to do with the tunes. When you get a hold of somebody else’s song, you make it your own. That’s all you can do. And that usually requires a certain amount of tailoring. Cut the sleeves off, lay some buttons. Everybody does something different to a song, that’s the tradition.
Not sure if she “cut the sleeves off” of Gershwin, but let’s see how she handles Tom’s catalogue. Anyway, here’s a few from the latest Waits release:
Yup, covering that voice should be a breeze.