Thursday, March 2, 2017

Out to the meadow with Tom Waits

Tom Waits talked to Wyatt Mason of The New York Times:

“There’s an expression in classical music,” Tom Waits told me, one Saturday night in January, when he called to talk about where music happens. “It goes, ‘We went out to the meadow.’ You ever heard that one?”
No, said Wyatt Mason. No, says I. Waits’s explanation:
“It’s for those evenings,” he continued, “that can only be described in that way: There were no walls, there were no music stands, there weren’t even any instruments. There was no ceiling, there was no floor, we all went out to the meadow. It describes a feeling.”
Google and Google Books turn up no evidence of “We went out to the meadow” (or anything close) as an expression in classical music. What is more important: I asked Elaine Fine, classical musician and composer-in-residence, and she’s never heard of it.

Like Bob Dylan before him, Waits is something of a master fabulist, and I suspect that “We went out to the meadow” is his invention. But if anyone has evidence of the expression apart from this Times article, I’d love to see it.


7:42 p.m.: From the Waits song “Diamonds & Gold”: “Go out to the meadow / The hills are agreen / Sing me a rainbow / Steal me a dream.” The song appears on the 1985 album Rain Dogs. (Hello, old LP.) And here’s Waits commenting on Dylan’s “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” in 1991: “It is like Beowulf and it ‘takes me out to the meadow.’” Note the quotation marks, as if to signal a familiar expression. But I can find no evidence that there is such an expression. I suspect that the classical-music explanation is a put-on, but I’d be happy to be wrong.

Other Tom Waits posts
Waits on parenthood : Frank Sinatra and Waits

[The Times article is about three musicians: Beck, Kendrick Lamar, and Waits. Total cost of the clothes worn by Beck and Lamar in the accompanying photographs: $8,560. Waits wore his own clothes.]

comments: 2

Pete said...

From what I know of Waits, I'll bet he was just messing with the interviewer.

Michael Leddy said...