Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Monday, 05 November 2012 10:09

Falling in love with music: 'Small Change' by Tom Waits + Video

Falling in love with music: 'Small Change' by Tom Waits
Written by Erin Frank
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Related Video

In the fall of 2003, I was living in San Diego and wondering when fall would actually happen. People who leave the idylls of Southern California frequently cite their need for discernible seasons, and I was no different.

San Diego does have seasons, of course, but their changing happens with a whisper instead of a bang, and outside of the fire hazards that accompany the Santa Ana Winds each fall, it's difficult to understand when the city makes its official switch to cooler temperatures, longer nights and the smell of crushed dry leaves (which usually end up being eucalyptus, and they don't have the same appeal as something more, well, fall-like).

I tried to assuage my profound homesickness by burying myself in books and music, and one day at Tower Records, I picked up "Small Change" by Tom Waits. "Small Change" was released in 1976 by Asylum, the post-"Closing Time" label that saw Mr. Waits switch gears from a folksy balladeer to a doleful, poetically-hearted and thoroughly soused piano man. Before jazz-club-cad Tom or bizarre-circus-ringmaster Tom, there was "Small Change" Tom and the other Asylum recordings, so many of which are perfect for the lengthening shadows and rain-slicked streets of fall.

Tom Waits will always have the market cornered on strange and lonely little characters inserted into strange and lonely little vignettes: his small-time criminals (like the titular Small Change in "Small Change (Got Rained On With His Own .38)"), tip-scraping musicians ("The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)"), and skid row, flop-housing, nowhere-to-go-but-everything-been-drunk anti-heroes forever stumbling through bad neighborhoods and foreign cities ("Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen)").

For me, "Small Change" was an album of homesickness that became an album for a season, one I've continued to listen every fall even though I'm now in a place, Seattle, where the change is apparent and significant, and everything seems like a more appropriate setting for Tom and the people inside of his songs.

Discover more great autumn albums in our "Falling in Love With Music" series.

Upcoming Concerts

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

88.1 KDHX Shows

m-guitar.jpg

KDHX Recommends

July
Friday
10

A Muscle Shoals Music Revue with Amy Black and Sarah Borges

Join powerhouse singers Amy Black and Sarah Borges for a soulful celebration of the incredible music that came out of Muscle Shoals, Alabama in the 1960s and 70s. Together, with a full band, they will perform classic songs originally...


July
Saturday
11

Brunch at the Stage: Jonathan Ramsey

KDHX is now curating a Saturday brunch series at the Stage with live music from local musicians and delicious, locally-sourced food and drinks from the Magnolia Café. Brunch at the Stage takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m....


July
Tuesday
14

KDHX Get Down to Business Series: How to Land, and Nail, an Interview

KDHX and Arcade Apartments present the Get Down to Business series at the Stage. Get Down to Business is a series of professional development presentations geared towards the St. Louis arts community. On Tuesday, July 14th, at 7...


Get Answers!

If you have questions or need to contact KDHX, visit our answers portal at answers.kdhx.org.

Online Users

3 users and 10698 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook