Podcast by Song by Song podcast
Cold Water, Mule Variations, Tom Waits 
Waits returns to stories of wandering America with a chainsaw guitar and a towel in this sleeper hit from Mule Variations. Justin, Sam and Martin discuss the revivalist gospel sound, the image of water in this and other music, and take an extended diversion into possible Tom Waits/Guillermo del Toro collaborations.
The House Where Nobody Lives, Mule Variations, Tom Waits 
Justin returns to discuss the nature of abandonment and housing with Martin and Sam, as well as our feelings about Waits's sentimental tone. We dig into Kathleen's involvement in the composition, his vocal quality, and then get massively side-tracked by the recording history of the deepest man in showbiz.
Get Behind the Mule, Mule Variations, Tom Waits 
The breadth and intimacy of Waits's writing is highlighted by our new guest host, director Justin Audibert, who joins Martin and Sam for this quasi-title track from Mule Variations. We discuss the emotional expression of singing through popular music, how Waits paints a portrait of America with specifics and generalities, and yodelling. Lots on yodelling. You didn't ask for this, but you're getting it. Yodelling. You're welcome.
Hold On, Mule Variations, Tom Waits 
Waits returns to the vignette form (at least by Sam's estimation) in this sentimental track that (in Martin's estimation) doesn't manage to hit on all levels. The value of sentiment, the origins of songwriting and the "truthfulness" of expression in music writing, and the ever-present question of authenticity all feature in this third conversation with Chad Clark.
Lowside of the Road, Mule Variations, Tom Waits 
Chad Clark rejoins Sam & Martin to discuss the second track of Mule Variations... or is it just a retread of the first? We pick apart the synthesis of old/new Waits, alongside more modern music fusions.
Big In Japan, Mule Variations, Tom Waits 
We return and begin again, this time with Chad Clark of Beauty Pill joining Martin and Sam for the first track of 1999’s Mule Variations. We discuss Chad’s perspective on music label relationships, the production choices and where the album sits at the end of the 20th century, plus how Waits relates to the energy of punk music.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I'm enjoying this!
Two guys, sometimes joined by guest hosts with varying degrees of Waits-ian knowledge/enthusiasm, go into deep dives of Tom Waits's discography, song by song, in the order in which they were released. Each episode is roughly 16 minutes or so.
I also enjoy their "interval tracks" which are used to further discuss a particular Waits track for that episode. It's helped me discover some amazing new (to me) songs.
As for the reviewer who would rather leave deciphering TW's lyrics to Americans because two British musicians don't know what the RTD is (something I'm pretty sure most Americans don't know either)... that's fine, but isn't one of the joys of being a fan seeing/hearing someone else's discovery of something which already makes you happy? I find their non-American perspective helpful in getting me to listen to each song in a new way.
Like a DVD commentary track -- but for songs
Although I'm not as seasoned a Tom Waits fan as many are, I thoroughly enjoy the analysis of lyrics I might have otherwise let slide by me, the guest voices bringing in additional perspectives, and (as a detail-oriented organizer) the sheer pleasure of having a podcast go through one interesting subject chronologically.
This podcast is very well produced, and episodes are the perfect length. A particular favorite of mine was the "Gun Street Girl" episode with Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spore from Criminal discussing murder ballads in general, as well as digging into some of the mysteries of that particular Waits song.
I'm obsessed with Tom Waits so a song by song discussion is tailor made for me. Sometimes these guys go a little overboard with their analysis of the lyrics but overall an enjoyable listen.