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Tom Waits: Getting Started

An Invitation to the Blues

Born Thomas Alan Waits on December 7, 1949 in Pomona, California, Tom Waits is occasionally described as the last beatnik performer.  Heavily influenced by the Beat Generation of the 1940s and 50s, he has received more critical success than public popularity. 

""Photo attribution: Ley_photography

Waits's first record was released in 1973, and by the 1980s he had become involved in acting and composing for films.  Many of his songs are about shady, seedy characters, who Waits seems to embody with his own bizarre stage and screen personas.

Step Right Up

Getting Started

For more sources in less time, try using Summon to find full-text articles, books, scores, media and more with just one search.





Suggested Searches: "Tom Waits" or "Waits, Tom"

To get a little more specific, try quotation marks to search for an exact phrase or a few boolean operators:

  • Album, "Franks Wild Years"
  • Tom Waits AND Swordfishtrombones
  • Tom Waits NOT Captain Beefheart
  • Tom Waits OR Kathleen Brennan

(Summon works best when you capitalize AND, NOT or OR in your searches)

""Photo Attribution: baldheretic

A Good Man is Hard to Find

Purpose of this Guide

This guide is a starting point for those interested in researching singer-songwriter-storyteller-poet Tom Waits using the collections in BGSU's Music Library and Sound Recordings Archives (ML/BSSA). It is intended for scholars, students, and fans.

All of the materials listed are available online, or accessible in the ML/BSSA's collection.  Collection items are linked to the library's catalog. Be sure to note circulation status, as many materials are for library use only.

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This guide was created by Liz Tousey, former Music Library Student and Circulation Supervisor.