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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good companion piece....
...to "Innocent When You Dream" (more of Tom's personality - even if it is mostly made up) and "The Wild Years" (the American take with more of how the albums came about).

This was a definite "British perspective" on the eccentric genius or rock and was full of useful facts and links.

It was a very easy compelling read and being British I like the...
Published on 25 Jun 2007 by Jimbo

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars TV Static
Of the many biographies I've read over the years, this has been the only one that has annoyed me so much that I've posted a review. Patrick Humphries reigns as the greatest filler ever. This being his second attempt at the book it seems rather sad that at any excuse he will pad the book out with extraneous details.
If you're expecting insightful comments and tales...
Published on 28 Dec 2007 by Lee Barry


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars TV Static, 28 Dec 2007
By 
Lee Barry - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Many Lives of Tom Waits (Hardcover)
Of the many biographies I've read over the years, this has been the only one that has annoyed me so much that I've posted a review. Patrick Humphries reigns as the greatest filler ever. This being his second attempt at the book it seems rather sad that at any excuse he will pad the book out with extraneous details.
If you're expecting insightful comments and tales from managers, roadies, ex-partners, musicians, actors or producers, then forget it. The break-up with Rickie Lee Jones is over in a blink.
If you've read more than five articles/interviews with Waits over the years then you don't need this book.
As mentioned above, I've learnt a lot about Francis Ford Coppola and Robert Altman. Why detail an entire movie when Tom Waits has one line in it? It would have been more interseting to have spoken to someone who worked on the set of the movie and got their impression, rather than suggesting Tom should have had more lines.
In the end the only winner is Tom Waits, who can relax in the knowledge that little has been revealed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Easy money, 8 Aug 2007
By 
G. Irwin (Shrewsbury) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Many Lives of Tom Waits (Hardcover)
Writing a book on Tom Waits is similar to making a Muhammad Ali documentary. The subject matter is so entralling that it would be almost imposible not to produce a piece of work that people would find interesting. An interesting read, however, is not a guartentee of quality though. I read this book in a couple of days and enjoyed it inspite of the author, not because of him. Tom Waits is a facinating character and I would recommend this book to people interested in finding out more about his life and music.

There are however, as Patrick Humphies frequently says of his subject, some fundamental flaws with this book. The sparcity of knowledge about Tom has led the author to fill out the book with unnessesary information about a host of associated artists. Francis Ford Coppola manages to get one full chapter dedicated to him, whilst Tom's album Blue Valentine manages to only get a few paragraph's. Granted, there is a link between Coppola and Waits, but the background into the film-maker was over-done.

The opening section of the book is also rather cringworthy, as the author 'sets the scene' for the book in the style of an early 70's Waits monologue. It typecasts the subject and almost put me off the book before I had begun.

There are better Wait's books out there and inevitably the best one is 'Innocent When You Dream' which, like the aforementioned Ali in 'When they were kings' just allows the subject to speak for himself and missing out the middle man. But as I mentioned above, it still is worth reading as Tom Waits is such a facinating character.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars pretty average, 27 Dec 2008
By 
joe (liverpool, uk) - See all my reviews
The first third of this book is reasonably well written, but by the final third you can really feel the author run out of steam, or anything relevant to say about the artist's work. PH had ONE interview with the great man back in 1981, and everything else is second hand here. That said, it is well researched and draws on tons of sources, published interviews, etc (all well noted and listed in the appendix). It just doesn't really do much with them and some of the writing is just downright crud. Witness the change of tone and writing style, veering from mock-academic to chummy asides, at one point PH refers to Tom Waits as "old grumble pants". PH would have ended that sentence with an exclamation mark. Not me, they're for wankers. PH uses them a lot.

It also "hovers" around a time, reporting back and forth around a non specific date, listing what Tom did around that time. Apparently Jim Jarmusch came to see Tom Waits three times in Chicago during the run of Frank Wild Years in 1986, and they "subsequently formed a friendship" (pg 184). Then Jim was so impressed with his acting that he travelled back in time to 1985 and cast Tom in his film Down By Law. I'm just being cynical and picking holes here, but this kind of lazy writing gets on my wick. I wrote a similarly slipshod and rambling history of the Beastie Boys for an American college assignment when I was about 23, and it was rightly picked apart by my tutor for generalisations, unsupported offhand comments and non-specific glib phrases. However my 3000 words of BUZZ cola fuelled tosh, largely cribbed from the internet, wasn't packaged with nice photos and sold to fans.

More examples? Ok, just one: The films of Jim Jarmusch were not so popular at the box office, because people were too busy watching films like "Ghostbusters, Top Gun and Batman" (pg 189) presumably the cinema going public were travelling in time too, they didn't like independent cinema so much that they'd rather fly forward to 1989 to see Jack Nicholson as the joker, than stay put in 1985 and watch this arty mumbling.

People with high blood pressure may want to avoid the page-and-a-bit where PH simply lists famous artists who like Tom Waits' music, culminating in the surprising and shocking news that Nick Cave likes Tom Waits. Perceptive and incisive journalism, this isn't.

Overall this is better than the biography of the Pixies that I got a few years back (Gigantic, see the amazon review of THAT for an outpouring of spite and bile from dissapointed readers, including myself)but still not a patch on spending the afternoon looking up old interviews online or surfing youtube for chatshow clips of Mr Waits himself. Or, indeed, putting a trilby on your cats to see which one looks most like Tom.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "..And substantiate the rumours that you've heard", 23 Jan 2009
By 
D. G. Hawkes "dayglowhippett" (Essex UK) - See all my reviews
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Humphries indulges in his own creative writing exercise in this unofficial biography at the readers expense. Whilst he no doubt enjoyed taking on the Dashiel Hammmet and Chandleresque paragraph in homage to Tom Waits famously poetic and gritty lyricising, in this book Waits is used as an excuse for the authors self indulgent exercises in down beat prose. The original content can be reduced to four pages gleaned from Humphries only encounter with Waits personally during a short press slot in 1981 that by the authors own admission was cut short by time restraints and continued in a taxi ride to Waits hotel. Given this sparse original source material he resorts to the usual description of songs on albums that any Waits fan already owns (these have been covered in more detail and with more perceptive analysis elsewhere). Humphries sinks lower than this though filling page after page with baffling free association on the movie industry,politics, city scapes and particularly on Frances Ford Coppola, extensively listing films released at the same time as any Waits product making inappropriate links to British artists he HAS interviewed and generally using any fleet street hack trick to devour column inches and waste our time. The patronising tone in the USA travelogue sections designed to conextualise Waits- American content leave a lot to be desired also eg "there are two coasts east and west..." (intro pg viii)thanks for that I'd never have guessed!!... also continent wise aren't there two more? .The next time Mr Humphries has a free weekend to peruse the music press (if indeed this took him that long)and intends to plagiarise other authors interviews in order to produce a biography on a private and difficult to access artist, he would do well to restrain himself. The next time he wishes to indulge in his pretentions to write like Hammmett or Waits he should join an evening class or restrict the results to friends and family. To cite bad liver and a broken heart "it don't douse the flames" of reader curiosity into Waits as a character or his artistic creations that deserve better than this . "Substantiate the rumours that you've heard" Mr Humphries and publish only when you have enough original material to do so. Don't buy or you will have "Wasted and wounded taint what the moon did got what I paid for now.....". Dave Hawkes Essex.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good companion piece...., 25 Jun 2007
By 
Jimbo (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Many Lives of Tom Waits (Hardcover)
...to "Innocent When You Dream" (more of Tom's personality - even if it is mostly made up) and "The Wild Years" (the American take with more of how the albums came about).

This was a definite "British perspective" on the eccentric genius or rock and was full of useful facts and links.

It was a very easy compelling read and being British I like the fact that some of the reviews weren't so "glowing". I don't necessarily agree with some of the authors opinions but no need to "gush" about everything in Waits-world either.

Unsurprisingly (as they probably weren't that big here in the UK) discussion of some of the better covers were missed (Diana Krall's Temptation and Neko Case's Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis) but overall it's a seemingly complete history of a large body of work.

If you just want a snap-shot of Tom's eccentricities get "Innocent When You Dream". If you want a well rounded history of a compelling career, this is an essential companion piece to IWYD and TWY.

You maybe have to be a bit obsessive to get all three though... haha.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Side-tracked, 4 Aug 2008
By 
Mr. Peter Steward "petersteward" (Norwich, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Many Lives of Tom Waits (Hardcover)
I have to agree with many of the other reviewers that this book is merely filler and very disappointing.

It is interesting for giving a feel of the world that Waits inhabits but it does very little to help our understanding of the rock maverick. Indeed at times it gets confusing to say the least.

Earlier this year I read a biography of rugby league commentator Eddie Waring and that left me with the same feeling. Here the author is sadly short of facts and insights into the man and so glosses over areas that should be developed while developing others that should have been glossed over.

I almost gave up at the chapter dedicated to thre work of Francis Ford Coppola as I failed to see the relevance of it and if I was interested in the film director I would have found a biography on him. It sadly smacked of an author running out of things to say on his subject matter. In two words this biography is very disappointing.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Some good parts, 1 Jun 2010
By 
D.G. (Manchester) - See all my reviews
This is largely too anecdotal and meandering to be of much interest. It's also written in an attempt at the Waitsian noir style, and that grates in most places. Some points of interest, though.
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1.0 out of 5 stars so bad it motivated me to write this, 23 Aug 2008
By 
David Mernagh (Wexford, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Many Lives of Tom Waits (Hardcover)
I agree with the other reviewers, what a hack job. Do yourself a favour, buy any other Tom Waits book.
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The Many Lives of Tom Waits
The Many Lives of Tom Waits by Patrick Humphries (Hardcover - 29 May 2007)
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