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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Swordfishtrombones is an album by American singer-songwriter Tom Waits, released in September of 1983 (see 1983 in music). It was the first album that Waits produced himself and is marked as such by a sense of artistic freedom that would increasingly characterize his later work.

Swordfishtrombones is one of his more experimental albums. It changed the directon of Waits, moving away from the traditional piano-and-strings ballad sound of his 1970s output towards a number of styles largely ignored in pop music, including primal blues, cabaret stylings, rumbas, theatrical approaches in the style of Kurt Weill, tango music, early country music and European folk music as well as the Tin Pan Alley-era songs that influenced his early output. He also recorded a spoken word piece, "Frank's Wild Years," influenced by Ken Nordine's "word jazz" records of the 1950s. Apart from Captain Beefheart and some of Dr. John's early output, there was little precedent in popular music.

Track listing

All tracks written by Tom Waits.

  1. "Underground" – 1:58
  2. "Shore Leave" – 4:12
  3. "Dave the Butcher" (instrumental) – 2:15
  4. "Johnsburg, Illinois" – 1:30
  5. "16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought-Six" – 4:30
  6. "Town with No Cheer" – 4:22
  7. "In the Neighborhood" – 3:04
  8. "Just Another Sucker on the Vine" (instrumental) – 1:42
  9. "Frank's Wild Years" – 1:50
  10. "Swordfishtrombone" – 3:00
  11. "Down, Down, Down" – 2:10
  12. "Soldier's Things" – 3:15
  13. "Gin Soaked Boy" – 2:20
  14. "Trouble's Braids" – 1:18
  15. "Rainbirds" (instrumental) – 3:05


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