Newly updated to include his critically acclaimed post-millennial work, this look at Tom Waitsboth the reality and the myriad mythsreveals the man behind the curtain. A tale of how a self-taught, drunken hipster in roach-killers and a dirty beret has influenced a generation of musicians with his sound, warmth, and willingness to take chances, this biography shows how he has moved between sideshow barker and evocative troubadour with ease, recording almost 20 albums that range from cabaret to movie soundtracks. Waits encapsulates the wink-and-nudge of a Vaudevillian and the rhythm and heart of a beatnik, and his fans span a similarly wide spectrum, drawn in by his candor and humor. But off stage, he has resolutely protected his private life even as he and his wife-collaborator, Kathleen Brennan, publicly experiment with innovative recording techniques and instrumentation. A complete discography, as well as a look at Waits' film and theater careers, rounds out this exploration of a great, self-styled, genre-hopping enigmathe poet laureate of the streetlit American night.

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