Tom waits quotes provide a great inspiration to his fans. Over the years, he has acquired a cult like following with his unique music.

Thomas “Tom” Waits is an American Singer, composer, and musician. He was born in Pomona, California on December 7, 1949. He is famous for his distinct sounding vocals ans experimental music. Waits also acted in supporting roles in films, including Paradise Alley and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

He was nominated for an Academy award for soundtrack work.  He won numerous prestigious music awards including Grammy awards. He was also inducted in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness. We are monkeys with money and guns.
Tom Waits

I’m not fighting for justice. I am not fighting for freedom. I am fighting for my life and another day in the world here.
Tom Waits

A gentleman is someone who can play the accordion, but doesn’t.
Tom Waits

I started out with nothing and I still got most of it left.
Tom Waits

Don’t plant your bad days. They grow into weeks. The weeks grow into months. Before you know it, you got yourself a bad year. Take it from me – choke those little bad days. Choke ’em down to nothing.
Tom Waits

Jimmy Stewart said he stopped making movies because he didn’t like the way he looked on screen anymore. I’m more the guy who says I look like hell but I’m going to see where it gets me.
Tom Waits

There’s a beauty of show business. It’s the only business you can have a career in when you’re dead.
Tom Waits

I didn’t really want to be part of a clique or a niche. But I also was looking for my own voice, as a writer, y’know? And a world I could call my own.
Tom Waits

If I exorcise my devils, all my angels may go, too.
Tom Waits Quotes

In terms of black music – the only music that we can call our own, that was really born here – I don’t think a lot has been done to chronicle the relations between American history and where black music fits in.
Tom Waits

I know a girl, she been married so many times, she got rice marks all over her face.
Tom Waits

They called it the Terminal Bar but they had no idea that like twenty years later the place’d be filling up with terminal cases.
Tom Waits

best tom waits quotes

All the donuts have names that sound like prostitutes.
Tom Waits Quotes

The folks who know the truth aren’t talking…. The ones who don’t have a clue, you can’t shut them up!
Tom Waits

I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.
Tom Waits

Most of the people I admire, they usually smell funny and don’t get out much. It’s true. Most of them are either dead or not feeling well.
Tom Waits

The world is a hellish place, and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering.
Tom Waits

Most people don’t care if you’re telling them the truth or if you’re telling them a lie, as long as they’re entertained by it.
Tom Waits

When I was younger, I wanted to be older. Now I am older, I am not quite so sure.
Tom Waits

You have to keep busy. After all, no dog’s ever pissed on a moving car.
Tom Waits

There’s nothing that makes me laugh more than being in the situation where you’re not supposed to laugh. Funerals. People crying. Breaking down. Telling you their life. I’m the worst. I’m the worst at that.
Tom Waits

Mostly I straddle reality and the imagination. My reality needs imagination like a bulb needs a socket. My imagination needs reality like a blind man needs a cane.
Tom Waits

You’re innocent when you dream.
Tom Waits

You can learn a lot about a woman by getting smashed with her.
Tom Waits

Oh I don’t mind going to weddings, just as long as it’s not my own.
Tom Waits

I walked 500 miles just to see a halo, when I opened my eyes I was blind as can be.
Tom Waits Quotes

Some men are searching for the Holy Grail, but there ain’t nothing sweeter than riding the rail. Pregnant women and Vietnam vets, beggin on the freeway, bout as hard as it gets.
Tom Waits

I’m reliable sources, I’ll tell ya anything you want me to know.
Tom Waits

Never trust a man in a blue trench coat, never drive a car when you’re dead.
Tom Waits

Disneyland is Vegas for children.
Tom Waits

Well it’s hotter ‘n blazes and all the long faces / there’ll be no oasis for a dry local grazier.
Tom Waits

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Everything is explained now. We live in an age when you say casually to somebody ‘What’s the story on that?’ and they can run to the computer and tell you within five seconds. That’s fine, but sometimes I’d just as soon continue wondering. We have a deficit of wonder right now.
Tom Waits

I’ve always believed that the way you affect your audience is more important than how many of them are there.
Tom Waits

If you get far enough away you’ll be on your way back home.
Tom Waits Quotes

I always had a great appreciation for jazz, but I’m a very pedestrian musician. I get by. I like to think that my main instrument is vocabulary.
Tom Waits

I like my music with the rinds and the seeds and pulp left in.
Tom Waits

All that you’ve loved is all you own.
Tom Waits

We have a deficit of wonder right now.
Tom Waits

Never have your wallet with you onstage. It’s bad luck. You shouldn’t play the piano with money in your pocket. Play like you need the money.
Tom Waits

I took a hundred dollars from a blindman’s hand.
Tom Waits

There’s a lot of intelligence in the hands.When you pick up a shovel, the hands know what to do. The same thing’s true of sitting at the piano.
Tom Waits

The ship is sinking The ship is sinking There’s leak, there’s a leak,in the boiler room The poor, the lame, the blind Who ore the ones that we kept in charge Killers, thieves, and lawyers God’s Away, God’s away God’s away on Business.
Tom Waits

The dog won’t bite if you beat Him with a bone.
Tom Waits Quotes

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I’ve never been a fan of personality-conflict burgers and identity-crisis omelets with patchouli oil. I function very well on a diet that consists of Chicken Catastrophe and Eggs Overwhelming and a tall, cool Janitor-in-a-Drum. I like to walk out of a restaurant with enough gas to open a Mobil station.
Tom Waits

Oh, I’m not a percussionist, I just like to hit things.
Tom Waits

I did my time in the jail of your arms.
Tom Waits

I’m the type of guy who’d sell you a rat’s asshole for a wedding ring.
Tom Waits

The way you do anything is the way you do everything.
Tom Waits

The devil knows the Bible like the back of his hand.
Tom Waits

But then I’m one of those guys that is still a bit afraid of the telephone, its implications for conversation. I still wonder if the jukebox might be the death of live music.
Tom Waits

Most of the things you absorb you will ultimately secrete.
Tom Waits

I think I have an adrenaline addiction, no question about that.
Tom Waits

Folks who work here are professors. Don’t replace all the knowers with guessors keep’em open they’re the ears of the town.
Tom Waits

Your old home town’s so far away, but inside your head there’s a record that’s playing, a song called ‘Hold On.
Tom Waits

You know when you throw a party, you think people will show up and no one will like each other. It’s like that with music – parts of your musical psyche have never met other parts. You wonder if you should get them together.
Tom Waits

My friends think I’m ugly, I gotta masculine face.
Tom Waits Quotes

When it’s raining you can’t find enough things to catch it in. When it’s not you can stand out in the middle of the street in a dress and a funny hat and nothing’s gonna make it rain. I go through periods – or spells – when I’m more receptive.
Tom Waits

I think this whole division between the genres has more to do with marketing than anything else. It’s terrible for the culture of music.
Tom Waits

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I always thought songs are movies for the ears and films are like songs for the eyes.
Tom Waits

You cannot really be too concerned with what people think of you. You’re on your own adventure of growth and discovery. So it’s not always good to be who people think you are, especially if you subscribe to it as well … which is easily done, because then you don’t have to figure out who you are, you just ask somebody else.
Tom Waits

Sing me a rainbow. Steal me a dream.
Tom Waits

I don’t have a drinking problem ‘Cept when I can’t get a drink.
Tom Waits

It’s very hard to stop doing things you’re used to doing. You almost have to dismantle yourself and scatter it all around and then put a blindfold on and put it back together so that you avoid old habits.
Tom Waits

I like vocal word stuff. But I don’t always write with an instrument, I usually write a capella. It’s more like drawing in the air with your fingers. It’s closest to the choreography of a bee. You’re freer.
Tom Waits

Sometimes the magnetism of a song is impossible to ignore, and it demands that it be sung in a certain way.
Tom Waits

I’m trying to get music ideas that come and keep them alive. It’s like carrying water in your hands. I want to keep it all, and sometimes by the time you get to the studio you have nothing.
Tom Waits

Songs are really just very interesting things to be doing with the air.
Tom Waits Quotes

As a kid, I did want to be an old-timer, since they were the ones with the big stories and the cool clothes. I wanted to go there. Now, I guess I want to bring that with me and go back in time.
Tom Waits

There’s only one reason why you write new songs: You get sick of the old songs. It’s not that I didn’t do anything during the time when I wrote no songs. I was creative, but in another way. I had ideas for songs and collected the ideas.
Tom Waits

My reality needs imagination like a bulb needs a socket. My imagination needs reality like a blind man needs a cane.
Tom Waits

The beginning of it starts at the end.
Tom Waits

You almost have to create situations in order to write about them, so I live in a constant state of self-imposed poverty. I don’t want to live any other way.
Tom Waits

I don’t really like listening to the radio so much.
Tom Waits

quotes tom waits

If there’s one thing you can say about mankind, there’s nothing kind about man.
Tom Waits

Their memory’s like a train: you can see it getting smaller as it pulls away And the things you can’t remember Tell the things you can’t forget that History puts a saint in every dream.
Tom Waits

You’re my North Star when I’m lost and feeling blue.
Tom Waits

When your down on your luck and you’ve lost all your dreams there’s nothing like a campfire and a can of beans.
Tom Waits

I’d rather have a free bottle in front of me than a prefrontal lobotomy.
Tom Waits

I think all songs should have weather in them. Names of towns and streets, and they should have a couple of sailors. I think those are just song prerequisites.
Tom Waits

You learn as much from your kids as they learn from you.
Tom Waits

I’m just trying to make a buck like everyone else.
Tom Waits

It’s a battered old suitcase and a hotel someplace and a wound that will never heal.
Tom Waits

I guess I’ve always lived upside down when I want things I can’t have.
Tom Waits Quotes

I’m trying to learn how to write faster.
Tom Waits

That for me is more important than anything when you’re in the studio – to have somebody you can trust and who knows you, knows who you are and doesn’t let you get away with anything.
Tom Waits

I knelt at the altar of Ray Charles for years. I worked at a restaurant, and that’s all there was on the jukebox.
Tom Waits

I hope I’m becoming more eccentric. More room in the brain.
Tom Waits

Planes and Trains and Boats and Busses Characteristically Evolve a common attitude of blue Unless you have a suitcase and a ticket and a passport And the cargo that they’re carrying is you.
Tom Waits

quotes tom waits

Children make up the best songs, anyway. Better than grown-ups. Kids are always working on songs and throwing them away, like little origami things or paper airplanes. They don’t care if they lose it; they’ll just make another one.
Tom Waits

It’s rather mystifying when you think about writing songs – where they come from, and how they’re born.
Tom Waits

Don’t look back, because someone might be gaining on you.
Tom Waits

Come down off the cross, we could use the wood.
Tom Waits

Slept all night in the cedar grove, i was born to ramble, born to rove, some men are searchin’ for the holy grail, but there ain’t nothin’ sweeter than ridin’ the rails.
Tom Waits

I’ve lost my equilibrium, my car keys, and my pride.
Tom Waits

I don’t like hearing Beatles songs in commercials. It almost renders them useless. I think, ‘Oh God, another one bites the dust.’
Tom Waits

Let me fall out of the window/ With confetti in my hair.
Tom Waits

I do some acting. And there’s a difference between “I do some acting” and “I’m an actor.”
Tom Waits

I do like books on anatomy. I have to say I’m an amateur physician, I guess.
Tom Waits

When you say you’re doing an opera, it’s like when you’re a seven-year-old and say, ‘I’m off to Washington, Dad.’ You kind of go, ‘Sure. Sure you are, son.’
Tom Waits

Did the devil make the world while God was sleeping?
Tom Waits

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The trick is to have a career and have a family. It’s like having two dogs that hate each other and you have to take them for a walk every night.
Tom Waits Quotes

Don’t plant your days they turn into weeds.
Tom Waits

She’s got the whole dark forest living inside of her.
Tom Waits

Living with kids is like living with a bunch of drunks. You know you really have to be on your toes all the time. Things are falling over and breaking and spilling. If you live on the second story, you really have to keep the windows shut all the time.
Tom Waits

Don’t you know there ain’t no devil, it’s just god when he’s drunk.
Tom Waits

I always liked the idea that America is a big facade. We are all insects crawling across on the shiny hood of a Cadillac. We’re all looking at the wrapping. But we won’t tear the wrapping to see what lies beneath.
Tom Waits

All records are riddles, and whatever you may want people to think it’s about, it may just be throwing them off. And you don’t want it to get in the way of what someone else’s understanding is. It’s not really about anything. At the same time, it will find some meaning.
Tom Waits

I’ll be clickin’ by your house about two forty-five, Sidewalk Sundae Strawberry Surprise.
Tom Waits Quotes

I don’t go to church on Sunday, don’t get on my knees to pray, or memorize the books of the Bible, I got my own special way.
Tom Waits

There’s truths there that spiral out of what appears to be just a word game. That’s what I find mystifying about the meanings of things: they kind of unscrew themselves from the practical words.
Tom Waits

I like Thelonious Monk, he’s so gnarled, he’s like a piece of machinery that’s pulled up the bolts on the floor and gone off on its own.
Tom Waits

George Burns was a Vaudeville performer I particularly loved.
Tom Waits

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The blues is like a planet. It’s an enormous topic. You can’t ignore the impact that it has had and continues to have on the whole musical culture. It’s a tree that everyone is swinging from. Without it, I don’t know where I would be. It’s indelible and indispensable.
Tom Waits Quotes

I’ll tell you all my secrets but I lie about my past.
Tom Waits

Time is just memory Mixed in with Desire.
Tom Waits

I can’t listen to so much music at the same time. I think you really have to have a diet. You’re just processing too much, there’s no place to put it. If you go a long time without hearing music, then you hear music that nobody else hears.
Tom Waits

I like turning on two radios at once. I like hearing things wrong… I get a lot of ideas by mishearing things.
Tom Waits

I made a wish on a sliver of moonlight
A sly grin and a bowl full of stars
Tom Waits

I may be drunk but at least I’m not insane.
Tom Waits

It’s the same with men as with horses and dogs, nothing wants to die.
Tom Waits

It’s a battered old suitcase to a hotel someplace, and a wound that will never heal. No prima donna, the perfume is on an old shirt that is stained with blood and whiskey. Goodnight to the street sweepers, the night watchmen flame keepers and goodnight, Matilda, too.
Tom Waits

Cross my wooden leg, swear on my glass eye.
Tom Waits

They say that I have no hits and that I’m difficult to work with. And they say that like it’s a bad thing.
Tom Waits

Every single song has its own individual character and you can’t treat each song the same way, because it wants to be treated differently and there are songs that are like scared birds that you have to sneak up on over the course of months in the woods.
Tom Waits

If you walk with Jesus, he’s gonna save your soul. You gotta keep the devil way down in the hole. He’s got the fire and the fury at his command.
Tom Waits

It’s hard to win when you always lose.
Tom Waits Quotes

quotes tom waits

For a songwriter, you don’t really go to songwriting school; you learn by listening to tunes. And you try to understand them and take them apart and see what they’re made of, and wonder if you can make one, too.
Tom Waits Quotes

Not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at.
Tom Waits

The fact is most of the things that people know about me are made up. My own life is backstage. So what you “know” about me is only what I allowed you to know about me.
Tom Waits

I’m always looking for sounds that are pleasing at the time. The sound of a helicopter is really annoying until you’re drowning, and it’s there to rescue you. Then it sounds like music.
Tom Waits

If people are a little nervous about approaching you at the market, it’s good. I’m not Chuckles The Clown. Or Bozo. I don’t cut the ribbon at the opening of markets. I don’t stand next to the mayor. Hit your baseball into my yard, and you’ll never see it again.
Tom Waits

The sight of the first woman in the minimal two-piece was as explosive as the detonation of the atomic bomb by the U.S. at Bikini Island in the Marshall Isles, hence the naming of the bikini.
Tom Waits

Champagne for my real friends and real pain for my sham friends.
Tom Waits

When you’re writing‚ you’re conjuring. It’s a ritual‚ and you need to be brave and respectful and sometimes get out of the way of whatever it is that you’re inviting into the room.
Tom Waits

The piano has been drinking, not me.
Tom Waits

The first time I started listening to Irish music, I had a very strong connection. Strangely enough, there’s a great many Japanese melodies and vocal styles that sound very much like Hungarian music. You start seeing all these cross-references and comparative, independent musical cultures.
Tom Waits Quotes

Any place is good for eavesdropping, if you know how to eavesdrop.
Tom Waits

Jesus Christ, this godamn rain, will someone put me on a train.
Tom Waits

Songs really are like a form of time travel because they really have moved forward in a bubble. Everyone who’s connected with it, the studio’s gone, the musicians are gone, and the only thing that’s left is this recording which was only about a three-minute period maybe 70 years ago.
Tom Waits

quotes tom waits

You got to tell me the brave captain Why are the wicked so strong? How do the angels get to sleep When the devil leaves the porch light on?
Tom Waits

On my gravestone, I want it to say, “I told you I was sick.”
Tom Waits

I saw a crow building a nest, I was watching him very carefully, I was kind of stalking him and he was aware of it. And you know what they do when they become aware of someone stalking them when they build a nest, which is a very vulnerable place to be? They build a decoy nest. It’s just for you.
Tom Waits

There’s always free cheddar in the mousetrap, baby.
Tom Waits

My wife called me a mule. She once said, “I didn’t marry a man; I married a mule!” I kept thinking about it. It was in the back of my head. I think it makes a good title for an album.
Tom Waits Quotes

Most songs that aren’t jump-rope songs, or lullabies, are cautionary tales or goodbye songs and road songs.
Tom Waits

The Universe is making music all the time.
Tom Waits

I’ve been riding on the crest of a slump lately.
Tom Waits

The big print giveth and the small print taketh away.
Tom Waits

I’m so horny the crack of dawn better watch out.
Tom Waits

George Bush is a fan of mine, he came to see me in the Seventies. His coke dealer brought him.
Tom Waits

I worry about a lot of things, but I don’t worry about achievements. I worry primarily about whether there are nightclubs in Heaven.
Tom Waits

Got a head full of lightning, a hat full of rain.
Tom Waits

Popular music is like a big party, and it’s a thrill sneaking in rather than being invited. Every once in a while, a guy with his shirt on inside out, wearing lipstick and a pillbox hat gets a chance to speak.
Tom Waits

I’ve never met anyone who made it with a chick because they owned a Tom Waits album. I’ve got all three, and it’s never helped me.
Tom Waits Quotes

quotes tom waits

We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness.
Tom Waits Quotes

I’ll take a rusty nail and scratch your initials on my arm.
Tom Waits

Arithmetic arithmetock Turn the hands back on the clock How does the ocean rock the boat? How did the razor find my throat? The only strings that hold me here Are tangled up around the pier.
Tom Waits

Most vagabonds i knowed don’t ever want to find the culprit that remains the object of their long relentless quest. The obsession’s in the chasing and not the apprehending, the pursuit you see and never the arrest.
Tom Waits

I hate Disneyland. It primes our kids for Las Vegas.
Tom Waits

Most of us have the residue of thousands of songs in our ears, that if you end up songwriting, I think you’re mostly smoking the residue of all that material you absorbed over time.
Tom Waits

You know, we just buy music now. We don’t make it any more. And that goes for just about everything. I think it’s so important that people develop and subscribe to and have confidence in their own ability to make music, however rough it is.
Tom Waits

My first big gig was an opening show for Frank Zappa, and I think that was difficult.
Tom Waits

I’m usually more concerned with how things sound than how they look on the page.
Tom Waits

God’s away, God’s away, God’s away on business. Business!
Tom Waits Quotes

The things you absorb you will ultimately secrete. It’s all out there and available for you to enjoy…and be nourished by.
Tom Waits

There’s a place on my arm where I’ve written her name next to mine.
Tom Waits

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You want soldiers who, when they get to a river after a long march, don’t start rooting for their canteen in their pack, but just dive right in.
Tom Waits

You’ve gotta have somebody to trust, that knows a lot.
Tom Waits

Writing songs is like capturing birds without killing them. Sometimes you end up with nothing but a mouthful of feathers.
Tom Waits

The average person spends two weeks over their lifetime waiting for the traffic light to change.
Tom Waits Quotes

Most songs have meager beginnings. You wake up in the morning, you throw on your suspenders, and you sub vocalize and just think. They seem to form like calcium. I can’t think of a story right off the bat that was that interesting. I write things on the back of my hand, usually, and sing into a tape recorder.
Tom Waits

I sold a quart of blood and bought a half a pint of scotch.
Tom Waits

I don’t like the stigma that comes with being called a poet . . . So I call what I’m doing an improvisational adventure or an inebriational travelogue.
Tom Waits

It’s hard to play with a bagpipe player. It’s like an exotic bird. I love the sound, it’s like strangling a goose.
Tom Waits

I like writing melody without an instrument. It’s just so – it’s more like the choreography of a bee; you just go.
Tom Waits

We are all just monkeys with money and guns.
Tom Waits

Well, they’ll bark you down like carneys, sell you Christmas cards in June.
Tom Waits

He said, I’m better off without her, until I showed him my tattoo.
Tom Waits

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Any image I have, it’s just what I do, but it comes off as being very pretentious. When you’re a bit in the public astigmatism, anything you do seems like you did it so somebody would see you do it, like showing up at the right parties.
Tom Waits Quotes

I was born in the back seat of a Yellow Cab in a hospital loading zone and with the meter still running. I emerged needing a shave and shouted ‘Time Square, and step on it!’
Tom Waits

Music has generally involved a lot of awkward contraptions, a certain amount of heavy lifting.
Tom Waits

Now its raining its pouring the old man is snoring now I lay me down to sleep I hear the sirens in the street all my dreams are made of chrome I have no way to get back home I’d rather die before I wake like Marilyn Monroe and throw my dreams out in the street and the rain make ‘em grow.
Tom Waits

There’s no prayer like desire.
Tom Waits

I’ve seen it all through the yellow windows of the evening train.
Tom Waits

I finally discovered that my life is more important than show business.
Tom Waits

Francis Ford Coppola is completely unconventional. He has a strong sense of loyalty. Great eyes. It’s a diabolical undertaking in terms of organization and leadership.
Tom Waits

It wasn’t good for my nerves, that kind of work – a fireman. I’ve got high blood pressure. I get upset easily. I don’t think that was a proper career alternative for me.
Tom Waits

I don’t think that you should be per­fectly candid and frank about the intimate details of your personal life with the public at large. Subsequently, it creates consider­able personal problems.
Tom Waits

I was a fireman. I lived in the fire sta­tion for about a year. The pay wasn’t so good. It was kind of like being in the army, or what I imagine that would be like.
Tom Waits

I never looked at music as a serious ven­ture. There was very little encouragement from my family. I didn’t have anybody to entertain, so it was hard to get motivated.
Tom Waits

It’s new, it’s improved, it’s old fashioned.
Tom Waits

Photos are profound because they have such short lives. They are more like fingerprints, dead leaves, rain puddles, or the corpses of flies.
Tom Waits

A mental midget with the IQ of a fence post.
Tom Waits

Misery is the River of the World.
Tom Waits

For a songwriter, you don’t really go to songwriting school; you learn by listening to tunes.
Tom Waits

Are you still jumping out of windows in expensive clothes?
Tom Waits Quotes

The moon was sharp enough to draw blood from a stone.
Tom Waits

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