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Postponed: Author Alex Harvey presents
“Song Noir: Tom Waits & the Spirit of Los Angeles”

Previously scheduled for Tuesday, September 6th, this author event has been postponed: a rescheduled date will be announced once set. The book is at the store. Come take a look!

Writer Alex Harvey has written a gritty, smoke-filled and boozy account of musician Tom Waits’s formative decade in Los Angeles. He’ll present the book at Bird & Beckett this evening with a little help from a trio of musicians.

Song Noir examines the formative first decade of Tom Waits’s career, when he lived, wrote, and recorded nine albums in Los Angeles: from his soft, folk-inflected debut, Closing Time in 1973, to the abrasive, surreal Swordfishtrombones in 1983. Starting his songwriting career in the seventies, Waits absorbed Los Angeles’s wealth of cultural influences. Combining the spoken idioms of writers like Kerouac and Bukowski with jazz-blues rhythms, he explored the city’s literary and film noir traditions to create hallucinatory dreamscapes. Waits mined a rich seam of the city’s low-life locations and characters, letting the place feed his dark imagination. Mixing the domestic with the mythic, Waits turned quotidian, autobiographical details into something more disturbing and emblematic, a vision of Los Angeles as the warped, narcotic heart of his nocturnal explorations.

Booklist (06/01/2022):
*Starred Review* One can easily make the argument that musician, songwriter, and actor Tom Waits is the consummate chronicler of down-and-out life in Los Angeles. Producer, director, and critic Harvey describes the busy first decade of Waits’ idiosyncratic career and his nine Los Angeles-themed albums, from Closing Time and Nighthawks at the Diner to Heartattack and Vine and Swordfishtrombones. Waits was influenced by Charles Bukowski, Edward Hopper, Ed Ruscha, Bob Dylan, Carson McCullers, Flannery O’Connor, Damon Runyon, Nathanael West, Nelson Algren, and, especially, the jazz poetry of Jack Kerouac, supplemented by strong elements of 1940s film noir and pulp fiction. Waits created a whiskey-soaked, skid-row stage persona that matched his musical portraits of drunks, misfits, outcasts, and other late-night denizens of L.A.’s diners and motels, those classic American places of “transience and seedy assignations.” From a young age, he worked a string of dead-end jobs, including bartending, changing tires, washing dishes, and driving taxis. He commemorated many of the people he met on the street in his songs. Harvey also acknowledges Waits’ underrated acting career, from Robert Altman’s Short Cuts to Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes, and the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Beautifully written, Song Noir is a fascinating and compelling read featuring striking and evocative black-and-white photographs. COPYRIGHT(2022) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.

The BBCLP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit...
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