53 Most Inspiring Quotes By Tom Waits

Tom Waits, original name, Thomas Alan Waits, born 7th December 1949, Pomona, California, U.S. is an American actor, singer, and songwriter who has won many accolades for his career. His lyrics focus on the bottom of society and are portrayed in his trademark deep and gravelly voice. He focused primarily on jazz in the 70s, but later on, in the 80s, he had a greater influence from rock, blues, vaudeville, and experimental genres.

Tom Waits was born and raised in a middle-class family. Inspired by the great work of Bob Dylan, he began singing on the San Diego folk music as a teenager. Before succeeding in the music industryTom did numerous casual jobs including bouncer in a club, working in a pizzeria, selling ice cream, and even as a US Coastguard to make ends meet. Tom Waits is a two times Grammy Award and a big fan of Missy Elliot. Tom Waits likes to keep a chronicle of fascinating facts and stories. Below are his most inspiring quotes.

Tom Waits Quotes

1. “For a songwriter, you don’t really go to songwriting school; you learn by listening to tunes. And you try to understand them and take them apart and see what they’re made of, and wonder if you can make one, too.”– Tom Waits

2. “You know what I really love? The CD players in a car. How when you put the CD right up by the slot, it actually takes it out of your hand, like it’s hungry. It pulls it in, and you feel like it wants more silver discs.”– Tom Waits

3. “Somebody said I sound like an old lady, and I was really insulted by that. I’m trying to sound like Skip James and Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye.”– Tom Waits

4. “Most people don’t care if you’re telling them the truth or if you’re telling them a lie, as long as they’re entertained by it.”– Tom Waits

5. “We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness. We are monkeys with money and guns.”– Tom Waits

6. “Most of the people I admire, they usually smell funny and don’t get out much. It’s true. Most of them are either dead or not feeling well.”– Tom Waits

7. “It’s very hard to stop doing things you’re used to doing. You almost have to dismantle yourself and scatter it all around and then put a blindfold on and put it back together so that you avoid old habits.”– Tom Waits

8. “Never have your wallet with you onstage. It’s bad luck. You shouldn’t play the piano with money in your pocket. Play like you need the money. Tom Waits (to me, about 1986 or so).”– Tom Waits

9. “Slept all night in the cedar grove, i was born to ramble, born to rove, some men are searchin’ for the holy grail, but there ain’t nothin’ sweeter than ridin’ the rails.”– Tom Waits

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10. “Bringing up children was]like living with a bunch of drunks…you really have to be on your toes all the time.”– Tom Waits

11. “The world is a hellish place, and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering.”– Tom Waits

12. “I’m always looking for sounds that are pleasing at the time. The sound of a helicopter is really annoying until you’re drowning, and it’s there to rescue you. Then it sounds like music.”– Tom Waits

13. “There’s nothing that makes me laugh more than being in the situation where you’re not supposed to laugh. Funerals. People crying. Breaking down. Telling you their life. I’m the worst. I’m the worst at that.”– Tom Waits

14. “When you’re writing‚ you’re conjuring. It’s a ritual‚ and you need to be brave and respectful and sometimes get out of the way of whatever it is that you’re inviting into the room.”– Tom Waits

15. “Don’t plant your bad days. They grow into weeks. The weeks grow into months. Before you know it, you got yourself a bad year. Take it from me – choke those little bad days. Choke ’em down to nothing.”– Tom Waits

16. “I’ve never met anyone who made it with a chick because they owned a Tom Waits album. I’ve got all three, and it’s never helped me.”– Tom Waits

17. “You got to tell me the brave captain Why are the wicked so strong? How do the angels get to sleep When the devil leaves the porch light on?”– Tom Waits

18. “The world is a hellish place, and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering.”– Tom Waits

19. “Champagne for my real friends and real pain for my sham friends.”– Tom Waits

20. “She’s a shiksa goddess and a trapeze artist, all of that. She can fix the truck…she’s outta this world…she’s bold, inventive and fearless. That’s who you wanna go in the woods with, right? Somebody who finishes your sentences for you.”– Tom Waits

21. “When your down on your luck and you’ve lost all your dreams there’s nothing like a campfire and a can of beans.”– Tom Waits

22. “Writing songs is like capturing birds without killing them. Sometimes you end up with nothing but a mouthful of feathers.”– Tom Waits

23. “Jimmy Stewart said he stopped making movies because he didn’t like the way he looked on screen anymore. I’m more the guy who says I look like hell but I’m going to see where it gets me.”– Tom Waits

24. “Never have your wallet with you onstage. It’s bad luck. You shouldn’t play the piano with money in your pocket. Play like you need the money.”– Tom Waits

25.” I always had a great appreciation for jazz, but I’m a very pedestrian musician. I get by. I like to think that my main instrument is vocabulary.”– Tom Waits

26. “It’s terrible for the culture of music. Like anything that is purely economic, it ignores the most important component.”– Tom Waits

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27. “It’s a battered old suitcase and a hotel someplace and a wound that will never heal.”– Tom Waits

28. “I just don’t like the word ‘fun’–it’s like Volkswagen, or bell-bottoms, or patchouli-oil or bean-sprouts…it rubs me up the wrong way.”– Tom Waits

29. “Arithmetic arithmetock Turn the hands back on the clock How does the ocean rock the boat? How did the razor find my throat? The only strings that hold me here Are tangled up around the pier.”– Tom Waits

30. “I look for things that are left of center, something you’ve only seen your whole life, but never heard. Hit it! With a stick! I have a guitar made out of a 2×4 that I bought in Cleveland.”– Tom Waits

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31. “You almost have to create situations in order to write about them, so I live in a constant state of self-imposed poverty. I don’t want to live any other way.”– Tom Waits

32. “You hope people are going to be listening to you after you’re gone. And they like you better after you’re gone.”– Tom Waits

33. “I have a Chamberlain I bought from some surfers in Westwood many years ago. It’s an early analog synthesizer; it operates on tape loops. It has 60 voices – everything from galloping horses to owls to rain to every instrument in the orchestra.”– Tom Waits

34. “Hell is boiling over. And heaven is full. We’re chained to the world. And we all gotta pull. And we’re all gonna be …just dirt in the ground.”– Tom Waits

35. “Now its raining its pouring the old man is snoring now I lay me down to sleep I hear the sirens in the street all my dreams are made of chrome I have no way to get back home I’d rather die before I wake like Marilyn Monroe and throw my dreams out in the street and the rain make ’em grow.”– Tom Waits

36. “My wife called me a mule. She once said, “I didn’t marry a man; I married a mule!” I kept thinking about it. It was in the back of my head. I think it makes a good title for an album.”– Tom Waits

37. “I always liked the idea that America is a big facade. We are all insects crawling across on the shiny hood of a Cadillac. We’re all looking at the wrapping. But we won’t tear the wrapping to see what lies beneath.”– Tom Waits

38. “It’s rather mystifying when you think about writing songs – where they come from, and how they’re born.”– Tom Waits

39. “I have an audio stigmatism whereby I hear things wrong – I have audio illusions.”– Tom Waits

40. “If you walk with Jesus, he’s gonna save your soul. You gotta keep the devil way down in the hole. He’s got the fire and the fury at his command.”– Tom Waits

41. “But then I’m one of those guys that is still a bit afraid of the telephone, its implications for conversation. I still wonder if the jukebox might be the death of live music.”– Tom Waits

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42. “I’ve seen it all through the yellow windows of the evening train.”– Tom Waits

43. “I’ll be clickin’ by your house about two forty-five, Sidewalk Sundae Strawberry Surprise.”– Tom Waits

44. “I think this whole division between the genres has more to do with marketing than anything else. It’s terrible for the culture of music.”– Tom Waits

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45. “I do some acting. And there’s a difference between “I do some acting” and “I’m an actor.”– Tom Waits

46. “I knelt at the altar of Ray Charles for years. I worked at a restaurant, and that’s all there was on the jukebox.”– Tom Waits

47. “I put food on the table and roof overhead. But I’d trade it all tomorrow for the highway instead.”– Tom Waits

48. “Their memory’s like a train: you can see it getting smaller as it pulls away And the things you can’t remember Tell the things you can’t forget that History puts a saint in every dream.”– Tom Waits

49. “There ain’t no devil, only God when he’s drunk.”– Tom Waits

50. “You can learn a lot about a woman by getting smashed with her.”– Tom Waits

51. “I ain’t got no spare/I ain’t got no jack/I don’t give a shit/I’m not going back.”– Tom Waits

52. “The Universe is making music all the time.”– Tom Waits

53. “Slept all night in the cedar grove, i was born to ramble, born to rove, some men are searchin’ for the holy grail, but there ain’t nothin’ sweeter than ridin’ the rails.”– Tom Waits

Tom Waits’ Private Listening Party

If you want to hang out with Tom in a private listening party for a few minutes, this is a great video.

Also see Leonard Cohen’s Quotes

Summary of Tom Waits

Tom Waits was a legendary artist who inspired many with his charming vocals and unique themes. He was very determined to achieve greatness in his music career which drove him to do casual jobs to support his music. Moreover, his wage as a doorman was 8$ an hour but when he started singing he earned only 6 $ in an hour, which demonstrates an incredible passion for music. The above passionate quotes about Tom Waits, motivates you to pursue your dreams despite the ups and downs.

Image Credit: English: Published by Asylum Records. Photographer uncredited and unknown., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


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