Iconoclast Tom Waits was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame by Neil Young at the ceremony Monday night honoring his vast and storied musical career spanning four decades. Waits accepted this honor with humor and heart, stating:
“Thanks, everybody, this is very encouraging. Songs are really just interesting things to do with the air. I was fifteen when I snuck in to a club to see Lightning Hopkins. I wore an overcoat, put white-out in my hair, drew on a mustache and said in a deep voice, “One ticket please.” I saw Lightning walk through a door in the back room that said, ‘Keep Out!! This Room for ENTERTAINERS ONLY.’ At the moment, I realized I wanted to get into show business as soon as possible.
I am grateful to my wife and my collaborator Kathleen Brennan. She is the light that helps me find my way and to my kids who have taught me everything I know.
Some day, I hope to hear, “Hey Mack, take the cuffs off him, I think he’s a Hall of Famer!”
During his introduction, Neil Young described Waits as: “a great performer, singer, actor, songwriter, magician, changeling and spirit guide.”
Following the inductions (Waits, Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Darlene Love, Leon Russell and Dr. John), Waits took over the famed ballroom stage with guitarist David Hidalgo (Los Lobos) and long time collaborators, guitarist Marc Ribot and bassist, Larry Taylor with son Casey Waits on drums. Tom’s shamanistic vocals, along with his innovative arrangements, pounding rhythms and emotional melodies were all on display in full force in front of the packed room filled with rock luminaries.
Waits performed four songs, including “Make It Rain,” “Rain Dogs,” a piano version of “House Where Nobody Lives,” and “Get Behind The Mule” (with Neil Young).
Immediately after the performance, Elton John noted: “If Jackson Pollack could sing, he’d sound like Tom Waits.”
Meanwhile, Waits has been hard at work in his studio on his highly anticipated forthcoming album of new songs.