Tom Waits grows more and more mysterious every year. While he was never a prolific live performer, these days it feels like we almost never get to see the man in action – bad news for people like me, who consider him to be one of the all-time best.
Talk-show legend David Letterman is ending his show, finally, with a series of outstanding musical guests who have graced his stage over the years, and while his appearances on other shows are rare to say the least, Waits has visited Letterman no less than ten times over the past three decades. So it only made sense that he’d be one of the final guests on the show before Stephen Colbert takes over.
In Waits’ first performance in two years (his last was at Neil Young’s charity show the Bridge School Benefit) and his first Letterman appearance since 2012, when he was promoting then-new album Bad As Me, Waits was a comical and colourful guest as always.
Possibly the best after-thought of all time came from Waits’ website, where it was later posted, ““I don’t know when I will see Dave again. I guess from now on we’ll have to settle for bumping into each other at pilates.”
Among the final guests to farewell Letterman during his three-part finale this week will be Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Bob Dylan, two of America’s greatest voices. He’s already been farewelled by Elvis Costello, Mumford & Sons, Norah Jones and more.
Watch the interview here, where Waits chats with Letterman and George Clooney (who were handcuffed to each other the entire time.) As per usual, they chat about anti-perspirants, salad, political rallies (“Free The Glutens”) and their first meeting in 1983.
Waits premiered a brand new song (!!!!!!!) called Take One Last Look. Dedicating it to Letterman, the ballad was emotional and nostalgic in a way so unique to Waits’ romantic, bluesy ballads. Accompanied only by a double bass and accordion, it’s a beautiful and touching farewell to one of TV’s biggest names.
For an added bonus, here’s Waist performing Chicago back in 2012. One of his best post-Mule Variations rompers!