Tom Waits’ Advice On Living A Full Life Still Stands Up

"Don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal."

Tom Waits is many things – a raconteur, a poet, a groundbreaking figure within American arts. He’s also wise, too. Just check out those songs lyrics. From his earliest days to 2011’s ‘Bad As Me’ Tom Waits has dished out homilies like there’s no tomorrow, cutting straight to the heart of the matter.

Since it’s Sunday evening, we’re going to share some life advice from Tom Waits. Initially penned for Rolling Stone’s Millennium editionthat’s 1999, to the Gen Z among us – a raft of artists were invited to send in their pearls of wisdom. Some peals, though, shine brighter than others.

Tom Waits picked up the challenge with gusto. His exceptional album ‘Mule Variations’ was released that year, so perhaps the creative juices were flowing – or perhaps Tom Waits simply had a lot to get off his chest. He’s not saying, and to be honest we don’t feel the need to ask. His words speak for themselves.

Ranging from circus life to the wah-wah pedal, his words detail a singular code, one that he’s stuck to all his days. Tom Waits wrote…

“Run away and join the circus. Get a tattoo, hop a train. Plant a garden and save the seeds. Get married, have kids, wear a hat. Get good with a bullwhip. Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal. Everyone must put beans on the table. Be devoted to the unification of the diverse aspects of yourself. Remember, most of what is essential is invisible to the eye. The quality of time you spend with someone far out-weighs the quantity. And there’s a lot you can do with a wah-wah pedal and a bullet mike.”

A marvel.

Tom Waits’ 2002 albums ‘Blood Money’ and ‘Alice’ was re-issued on vinyl last year. It’s been 12 years since his last studio LP – we’re not counting the days, honestly.

Oh and one last thing – here’s an archive performance of Tom Waits performing ‘Chocolate Jesus’ on the Late Show With David Letterman. Funnily enough, it’s also from 1999.

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