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From the Archives, 1981: “I feel just as mad now as I did before…”

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald on September 30, 1981
Tom Waits in Sydney for second concert tour

Tom Waits at Sebel Town House: “The music industry is full of misfits. Sick, hungry, neurotic misfits.” September 30, 1981.

Tom Waits at Sebel Town House: “The music industry is full of misfits. Sick, hungry, neurotic misfits.” September 30, 1981.Credit:Antonin Cermak

When Tom Waits is not hugging himself in fidgety self-absorption, he is hugging his new and young wife.

The blaring volume of yesterday’s episode of Days of Our Lives was turned down while the singing cult figure installed himself in a corner of his motel room behind a bottle of red wine.

The winkle-pickers and their attached feet, complete with mismatched socks, were tossed on a nearby couch, while the rest of him clawed his chest and arms and the head nodded ever downward.“That’s right baby,” he rasped out to his wife Kathleen’s comments.

It came as a surprise to his fans when they married last year. No more Better Off Without A Wife songs from this American pianist, composer and blues-singing poet.

“That song seems as silly to me as anything I can recall in recent memory.” he said. “I realise now I am certainly not better off without my wife. I don’t know how I got along.

“We are not your model American couple. I feel just as mad now as I did before only I have some real company, a real companion.”

Tom Waits does not merely bite his nails, he thrusts whole chunks of his hands into his protruding lower-lipped mouth, and gnaws.

He does not merely chew on gum, he attacks the rubbery object and tosses its wrapper on to the pristine shag-pile of his suite at the Sebel Town House.

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