Blood Money cover

Blood Money

Released

Tom Waits released two albums simultaneously in 2002, each the soundtrack to a theatrical collaboration with Robert Wilson. Blood Money was a collection of songs written for an adaptation of Woyzeck, a harrowing story about a soldier driven to madness and murder by the abuse he suffers at the hands of his superiors, and by the unfaithfulness of his wife. If the lyrics to Blood Money are any indication, Waits has expanded the scope of the story to make his narrator more misanthropic (“Misery Is The River Of The World,” “Everything Goes To Hell,” “God’s Away On Business”). But there are romantic ballads too — “Coney Island Baby” is a song of pure devotion, delivered in a Rowlf the Dog-esque growl. Where the arrangements on its companion piece, Alice, were loaded with strings and European romanticism, Blood Money is classic Waits, full of honking saxes, left-footed rhythms, guitar and piano. It stands on its own as a collection of songs, thematically linked maybe but not anchored to a story or dependent on external factors for its appeal. And don’t miss the instrumental “Knife Chase,” which could be a lost track by the ’80s Downtown jazz crew the Lounge Lizards.

Phil Freeman

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