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Posted on Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Dave!So there I was killing time while waiting for Veronica Mars when The Daily Show comes on. I totally love The Daily Show and quickly became engrossed in the "fake news" of the day. Then the guest for the evening shows up and its Tom Waits. I've heard of him before, but don't know that I'm familiar with any of his music. I think there was a time I had him confused with Paul Young or something, but other than that I have no idea.

Waits is being interviewed and seems a decent guy and everything, when John Stewart announces there's going to be a song. "Oh goodie" I say to myself, "he's supposed to be good."

Holy shit.

Worst. Singer. Ever.

Seriously, it was so bad that at first I thought it was some kind of joke. I kept waiting for John Stewart to pop up and they'd have a laugh. But Jon Stewart never came. The tragically bad "song" just went on and on. It sounded kind of like a dry heave taking place during a case of chronic diarrhea. If it weren't for Veronica Mars later that night, I probably would have tried to microwave my head in hopes that dying would somehow erase the memory of the horror.

And yet there are people who pay to listen to this stuff?

If you're one of them, I apologize and everything, but holy crap.

Of course it's not like I could do any better. I am a lethally bad singer myself. But at least I realize this and don't inflict my damage on others (unless its karaoke night and I'm really drunk)...

Rockin Out

Okay, that's a lie.

There are also those few songs that come on the radio which compel you to sing along, but I don't really have any control over that. Who does? Songs like Bon Jovi's Living on A Prayer. Or Billy Idol's Rebel Yell. Or AC/DC's Back In Black. Or even something totally inexplicable, like Hall & Oates' You Make My Dreams. It's this last one that caused one of my most embarrassing moments ever. There are many, but this is one of those that you keep replaying in your head while saying to yourself "WHY? OH LORD WHY?!?"

It was four years ago and I had just returned from a trip abroad. I don't really get jet-lag anymore, but I was incredibly tired. Since I had to be in San Francisco the next morning, I didn't bother flying home, but instead decided to stay at a hotel at Seattle's airport. This was when the iPod had just been released, and I had made a habit of listening to my brand new toy as I fell asleep. This was kind of lame, because I only had a few old CDs from my car ripped into it, but it was something new and I was having fun with it. A scant four hours later, I wake up and rush to the airport. Since this was a just 6-months or so after 9/11, security was ridiculous, and I had to be there something like 3 hours before take-off.

And so I make it to my gate. With nothing better to do, I take out my iPod so I can look all cool listening to those same old crappy albums... and proceed to fall asleep.

It's then that I have one of those delirious moments where you wake up without really waking up... all the while thinking that I'm still back in my hotel room because I'm completely mentally drained. Hall & Oates' You Make My Dreams has started to play and, for reasons totally unknown, I start to sing along.

In an airport waiting area full of people.

People I have to get on a plane with for a few hours.

And it was HALL & OATES!! Not something cool like AC/DC... but HALL AND FRICKIN' OATES!

It was right in the middle of one of those "You Hoo... Hoo Hoo Hoooooo" moments when I realized where I was and what I was doing. "Mortified" doesn't even begin to cover how I was feeling.

But, as bad as it probably was, I'm pretty sure I must have sounded better than Tom Waits did tonight on The Daily Show.

Categories: Music 2006Click To It: Permalink


  1. Danielle says:

    I love it when people do things like that. Your awesomeness quotient just went up about a mile.

  2. The Chad says:

    I got home on break just in time to catch that song. That was some crap.

  3. karla says:

    Oh Dave, this is just another reason why I so think you rock. I have NEVER understood that whole Tom Waits thing. EVER. And I know people who are RABID fans. The sun rises and sets on the man in their opinion.

    But if I wanted to hear a rusty old lawnmower singing, wouldn’t I just go out to my garage and pull the starter string instead of pay for a cd of it?

    You so rock. For speaking out.

    But I bet this makes us uncool. Like, the fact that I cannot stand Benicio Del Toro instantly somehow makes me a non-hip, non-indie movie fan. I don’t get how that happens, but whatever. The man is ugly and cannot enunciate. he’s the actor version of Waits.

    My guilty Hall and Oates sing along song is Private Eyes…are watching you!

  4. serap says:

    Dave that story is so funny!! I love singing aloud, but I too am not very good. Oddly enough there is one supermarket near me where its ok to sing along to the music… I noticed 3 people singing last time I went there, and so I joined in too. I tried it at another supermarket recently, and got some funny looks, its obviously not my kind of shop.

  5. timothy says:

    If only I could discover the secret of convincing people that a caterwaul has artistic merit, you would see me on The Daily Show too.

    Keeping the dream alive!

  6. Göran says:

    I haven´t heard Tom Waits in a long time because I kind of lost interest but to his defense I have to say that he did some amazing albums years ago. Closing Time, Swordfishtrombones and Rain Dogs are three albums I still listen to, not that often, but still.

    He was also very cool in Bram Stokers Dracula!

  7. Kyra says:

    Wow. I think I might have died of mortification as well, if I had done that. On the other hand, I have been caught in so many horrid situations, I could write a book. So, on the upside, I’m so glad to hear there is one that hasn’t befallen me yet! 😉

    (Oh, and I am glad I missed the Tom Waits….cause I don’t even know who he is, but I don’t like being tortured with singing worse than my own, and that’s really saying something.)

  8. jenny says:

    RE: Veronica Mars, is it possible for me to love Logan any more than I already do?

  9. Arthur Delaney says:

    Yeah my best friend’s wife can’t stand Tom Waits either. I like him, I think the sun rises and sets on him as well, that is except for when he’s in a different solar system. I think the sun rises and sets on most of us, excluding all of those evil cave dwelling imps.

    I guess I can understand that people don’t like his gravelly voice but, as with anything one likes, it confuses me. He’s great…before dismissing him you should at least hear his classics, including some stuff off of Small Change…Tom Traubert’s Blues and The Piano Has Been Drinking. I really don’t understand how anyone could not like those songs.

  10. ms. sizzle says:

    it’s funny because i get what you are saying about tom waits and yet, i really dig him. i know he isn’t a great singer but he’s gritty and raw and reminds me of bukowski if bukowski sang (which, luckily for all of us, he doesn’t).

    i bet some of those people in the airport were singing hall and oates all day because of you. i love that story. 🙂

  11. I don’t know any of Tom Waits music, but it can’t be any worse then Randy Newman, can it? lol his singing makes me lmao!

  12. Jeff says:

    I didn’t understand his choice of singing that song either. Tom is a very “eclectic” musician and extremely gifted poet. He has songs that span a wide variety of styles – some I love and others I can’t even listen too.

    I kept scratching my head the other night wondering why he decided to choose that particular song to showcase his new album, when I’m sure there are songs on there that actually have a melody.

    I agree with Goran that he has put out some very likable material in the past, and I have those same albums plus others. But right now I wouldn’t buy his new album based off of that preview.

  13. diane says:

    Oh, Arthur, you’re right! I had forgotten about The Piano Has Been Drinking. That is a great song.
    I was more turned off the first time I heard Nick Cave. I was like, THIS is what all the fuss is about? Tom Waits is okay in my book, because his scene in Coffee and Cigarettes is hilarious.
    And that picture of you? Kinda makes me want to hide under a large rock when you make it to Chicago. 😉

  14. Troy says:

    As everyone has already said Tom Waits is a very aquired taste. He has a lot of good songs (especially when they are performed by someone else). Though I think his older albums are significantly less gruff.

    Oh and he played the Pacifist Mad Scientist in Mystery Men.

  15. Erin says:

    Tom Waits isn’t technically a great singer, but it’s the emotion in his voice and the twists of his lyrics that make some of his songs beautiful. Not as amazing as The Old 97s, but affecting. Though he did manage to be the worst moment in all of Domino, and with as bad as that movie was, that’s a horrifying and damning accomplishment.

    Was that not the best VM all season so far? They’ve finally made me excited to see what happens next!

  16. Laurence says:

    Dave, you make me laugh !
    All you feel is legitimate (justified)… And I am always surprised that the expressions are the same in any language.

    I am totally agree with you about Tom Waits. Me, I always believe that he is drunk when he sings. And the expression “There are people who pay to listen to this stuff?” is the same. (=Il y a quelqu’un qui paie pour ça? And I say often this expression) 🙂

    And the “You Hoo… Hoo Hoo Hoooooo” moments, they are called “moments de solitude”. Those moments are a universal subjet. Each one knows at least in his life ONE moment of solitude !!! And yours is very funny !!! 😀

  17. Lela says:

    I love Darryl Hall & John Oates!!! Did you usually do that Carlton-from-Fresh-Prince-of-BelAir 80s dance with the swingin’ arms too?

  18. Kristin says:

    I understand what you’re saying, Dave, and yet. I love Tom Waits. I love his older music, his wistful sentimental gritty stuff, and the fact that his name is a complete sentence. If you can find it, listen to Closing Time – from 1974, before the whiskey and cigs ruined his voice. Also, somewhere out there is a duet of “Makin’ Whoopee” that he did with Bette Midler. It’s great.

    And BTW, Seattle is still all shut down, in spite of the fact that all the streets I can see are totally dry and clear. Apparently the snow sticking to the grass is scaring people out of leaving their houses.

  19. Jeff says:

    Kristin – Actually, Tom’s voice never was ruined by abuse, he simply chooses to sing in the style of Louis Armstrong. Another fantastic duet with Bette was “I Never Talk to Strangers.” I could listen to that over and over again and never get tired of it.

  20. Dave2 says:

    What I heard last night sounded nothing… NOTHING… like the great Louis Armstrong!! I have no idea what he was trying to sound like… it didn’t even really sound like singing!

  21. adena says:

    Oh man, where were you when I’ve been stuck in airports??

  22. nancycle says:

    That’s too funny. Hall and Oats ~ how manly Dave! Maybe “You Make My Dreams” was getting off easy…There’s a couple of AC/DC songs that would have gotten you a few looks…(namely off the Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap album).

    Now…All of this sharing is nice an all, don’t get me wrong, BUT I can’t help but think we’re all being suspended from another installment of The Lil Dave Animation Project.



    Aren’t I an insufferable ass?

  23. ~jtm says:

    My husband likes Tom Waits… I’ve only heard a few things of his so I don’t have much of an opinion, if I had to base it on the Daily Show performance I’d have to say “No…no, thank you.”… but could someone explain to me the allure of System of a Down, I can’t figure that one out to save me…

    ~I’ll be over in the corner in my rocker knitting a shawl…

  24. Bre says:

    That’s juuuuust about as awkward as the time when I was sitting next to someone on a bus who was singing along to their iPod (which was up so loud that I could hear it!) and, unthinkingly, I started singing along with them! Needless to say, I got off that bus way before my stop!

  25. Arwen says:

    I love Tom Waits but that isn’t one of his better songs and not one of his better performances. Seeing him live last summer was one of the best things I have ever done.

  26. That pic makes me want to reach through the screen and give you the ‘rock lock’ handshake.

    As for singing, I have a voice that makes dogs heads ‘splode but I will always sing to The Commodores ‘Brick House’, Prince’s ‘Raspberry Beret’, and the first 6 songs of Hagfish’s ‘…Rocks your Lame Ass’. But then, I have no shame…

  27. Melissa says:

    Strange. I know I’ve seen musical guests before on The Daily Show, but have never seen them actually sing. Huh never heard of him. Makes me glad I actually missed a show. Sometimes I’ll just tune in the first 15 minutes of the show any way. I only stick around the rest of the show if I’m interested in the guest. 🙂

    Now I have Living on A Prayer stuck in my head.

  28. Karl says:

    Ugh, I caught Waits on Letterman the same night, I think. And I’d heard all sorts of things about him over the years, but hadn’t ever heard him sing. He made for a good interview but – like you – when I heard him sing I couldn’t believe how bad he was. And he’s freaking famous! Awful.

  29. delite says:

    I actually like Hall & Oates..but there’s one song in particular that makes me crazy (and not in a good kinda way crazy) their “I Can’t Go For That (No can do)” I despise that song

  30. I have to agree that old Tom is something of an acquired taste. And that he is a pretty bad singer at times. But HOW could you just dismiss a man who brought us the line, “And I’m getting harder than Chinese Algebra”?!? Give “Pasties and a G String” a shot before you go any further. When Bad Monkey came to visit, it was one of his favorite songs.

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