Only the Lonely
was pop music, but with more melancholy, and great lyrics. One of the first things that caught my ear was his use of minor chords: bluesy and dark, instead of up and poppy. It was the first song I played on my guitar.
I think those two-minute pop songs are a great loss to us. You used to go into a studio and make a record in a matter of days. There wasn't the technical equipment to embellish, layer and craft.
Orbison toured right up to the end. As for us, we lost everything in the late Seventies, but managed to regroup in a way that kept it alive. We learnt new ways of writing, embraced the technology and found we were current again.
I've been a fan ever since I heard the album Bone Machine, which is still my favourite Tom Waits record. It made me just about lose my mind. He has a gravelly voice, and arty, kind of bluesy, sounds. The songs remind me of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but Waits isn't so religious. He's really inventive, and plays some strange instruments. His lyrics are very poetic, and can be sung as well as used for the spoken word. Weird or strange music is very inspiring.
Any time we hear people like that, even though we don't end up sounding like them, it gets us thinking. I'll buy anything between 20 to 30 records at a time, all across the range, from Phantom of the Opera to world music and the new Beastie Boys album. The only music I don't buy, funnily enough, is country and western. Yet I always switch to a country radio station when I'm driving.
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