Tom Waits, Blood Money

Sam Adams

By Sam Adams

on 10.24.11 in Reviews

Blood Money

Tom Waits
The best of Waits’s theatrical efforts

The retitled soundtrack to Robert Wilson’s stage production of Woyzeck is the best of Waits’s theatrical efforts, at its height the equal of anything on Bone Machine or Mule Variations. Perhaps having the spine of Georg Büchner’s play to build on freed Waits to compose at will, or perhaps he’d simply gotten the hang of collaborating with Wilson, but Blood Money feels like a full-throated Tom Waits album rather than an adjunct to an unseen story. “Misery Is the River of the World” raises the curtain in familiar sturm und drang style, but “All the World Is Green” broadens the palette to include the saw of a melancholy cello. Reading up on Büchner’s play might deepen your appreciation, but it’s not a necessity; the songs tell their own stories as well as fitting into a larger one. “God’s Away on Business” leans closest to the Waits-by-numbers of The Black Rider, but it’s infused with a knowing wink, as if Waits knows we’ve all been here before.