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Barney Hoskyns

Lowside of the Road

Published by Broadway

Jun 22, 2009 Issue #26 Spring 2009 - Bat For Lashes Bookmark and Share

In what may be one of the most thoughtfully written and insightful accounts on the life of Tom Waits, Lowside of the Road meticulously explores one of America’s most phenomenal music icons. Throughout the book, we learn how Waits shaped and evolved his singular persona as well as what artistic influences and colorful personalities surrounded him in key moments of his incredibly prolific career. Unfortunately, the author was stonewalled in making this book by the notoriously private Waits and his wife/musical collaborator Kathleen Brennan. But despite that, Hoskyns tries not to take it too personally, although he can’t resist facetiously providing some email threads in an appendix to illustrate his abrupt rejection from interview subjects like Keith Richards after the hand of the Waits camp intervened.

Although many key players in Waits’ life refused to participate, the book still contains a remarkably rich abundance of quotes from past interviews and some cooperative Waits cohorts from throughout the years to support and complement much of the narrative’s action. But one can’t help wondering just how much more dense the book would be if only half the people who rejected the author had instead agreed to speak.

With a talent for evenly pacing the narrative through the lackluster moments of Waits’ life, combined with exhaustive research to back the details, Hoskyns has succeeded in writing a compelling book that will satiate any Waits buff’s appetite. (www.randomhouse.com/broadway/)

Author rating: 7/10

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