Brow Beat

Tom Waits Is at His Rambling, Riveting Best in This Animated Interview

Tom Waits is not your everyday interviewee. The singer has a penchant for steering conversation away from coherence and toward the abstract, using what we call “questions” as springboards into his own swirling inner monologue. That digressive tendency is front and center in the latest installment of Blank on Blank, which animates a talk Waits had with writer Chris Roberts almost 30 years ago.

As Roberts notes, with Waits, a “natural raconteur,” it’s best to “get out of the way and let him do his thing, perform.” And perform he does: In five minutes, we get the singer’s thoughts on gaudy shirts, the moles living beneath Stonehenge, making the “big time,” and laughing in church. All of it is terrific, and none of it could be uttered by anyone but Tom Waits.