Tom Waits – Rain Dogs: #598 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Tom Waits - Rain Dogs

So why is Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

When I was taking notes during the research process for this here best 1,000 albums ever project, I noted the following about Rain Dogs: “I’m pretty sure this album is playing on blast and on loop in purgatory’s waiting room.”

Which… I’m not sure if there would be a waiting room for purgatory, should purgatory even exist and all that? But more importantly: I meant it in a good way. I think the album put me in the mind of Tim Burton’s 1988 movie, Beetlejuice, a darkly comic journey through some kind of cross-dimensional space. Or something.

That is all to say: it’s a strange ride, it’s a strange trip. Another non-sequitur that I jotted down: “When there’s a song called ‘Cemetery Polka’ and that’s not nearly the weirdest thing about the album…”

Songs like “Jockey Full of Bourbon” and “Singapore” exemplify this bizarre yet exciting spirit. Both seem to connect to strange journeys and are replete with both odd and almost spooky sounds and imagery. Also: both songs are pretty terrific and absolutely unique.

Here’s a little lyrical sample, from “Singapore”:

The captain is a one-armed dwarf
He’s throwing dice along the wharf
In the land of the blind
The one-eyed man is king, so take this ring

For what it’s worth, Wikipedia says that Rain Dogs is “a loose concept album about the ‘urban dispossessed’.”

“Downtown Train” is a much more accessible and less experimentally weird song, and quite a strong one at that. Waits’ gravelly voice is the most distinctive thing about it, but overall it’s a great 1980s rock song (and one in fact that Rod Stewart would later cover and score a hit with).

Some stats & info about Tom Waits – Rain Dogs

Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

We sail tonight for Singapore. Don’t fall asleep while you’re ashore. Cross your heart and hope to die, when you hear the children cry.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.