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Bone Machine

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iTunes Review

From the opening seconds of “Earth Died Screaming,” it’s apparent that Tom Waits named this album Bone Machine for a reason. The unusual percussive attack he’d been using on much of his material for the previous decade sounds even more primitive and physical, very possibly the result of working with this grisly-sounding “bone machine.” His singing is even more tortured and extreme and his lyrical obsessions have curtailed their surrealism to focus on mortality’s eerie call. The funereal gospel chant of “Dirt in the Ground” is slow, foreboding and chilling, Ralph Carney’s saxes and clarinets mourning into the thick, humid air. “Jesus Gonna Be Here” sports a guitar that sounds like a rubber band stunning its singer to pained heights. “The Ocean Doesn’t Want Me” whispers in sad resignation, while “A Little Rain” recalls the more traditional tearjerker ballad Waits can seemingly essay on command. Throughout, the album sounds as if it were recorded in the distance, slightly out of focus and with an extra layer of grime. Absolutely gorgeous in its idiosyncratic genius and a highlight in a career with many peaks.

Customer Reviews

A Classic

A must have for Tom Waits fans. Takes me back to my grad school days when this album was played all the time at art school. Painters love Tom Waits.

Like following Alice into the rabbit hole

Without a doubt, Waits' best album. Stepping away from the New Orleans bar mood of his earlier work (which is undoubtably incredible), Bone Machine takes you into the country where there are more troubling things than sitting drunk in a dark bar late at night. Each song is filled with longing and emotion, that draws you ever deeper into the hole.

Deep Waits

This is a genre defying work of greatest importance. One can dwell on the imagery present in this albums lyrics alone. However, Once combined with waits pseudo industrial tunes the listener is transporter to another place. A dark and romantic place far beyond your average songwriters capabilities. This was my intro to Tom some 15 years ago. Exploring his works is a journey, and although this album may or may not be the best starting point for everyone it is most definetly one of the most interesting stops on the way.


Born: December 7, 1949 in Pomona, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In the 1970s, Tom Waits combined a lyrical focus on desperate, low-life characters with a persona that seemed to embody the same lifestyle, which he sang about in a raspy, gravelly voice. From the '80s on, his work became increasingly theatrical as he moved into acting and composing. Growing up in Southern California, Waits attracted the attention of manager Herb Cohen, who also handled Frank Zappa, and was signed by him at the beginning of the 1970s, resulting in the material later released as The...
Full Bio