December 2, 2015 – 1:42 pm

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San Diego 1974 [no label, 1CD]

Live at the San Diego Folk Festival, San Diego, CA; April 19, 1974. Very good soundboard (?).


Godfather Records had coupled this San Diego show together with a few tracks from the January 4, 1976 show at The Main Point, Bryn Mawr, PA and released it as San Diego Serenade (GR 348).

Having just released “The Heart Of Saturday Night” that same year,  this live recording marks the dividing line between [Tom Waits’] melodic singing style and the raspy, more unconditional style he embarked on in years to come.

One of the most incredible aspects of this release is the bar stool banter between songs. Tom’s honesty and humor comes through unplanned and genuine.  He has the ability to drive the listener through all of the major emotions… much like a long conversation while cruising on a Saturday night with the top down. He will have the audience laughing out loud at one point and then leave the audience with deep rooted philosophies that sound like they came from a seasoned auto mechanic at the end of a busy day.

The track that really stands out early on is, “The Heart Of Saturday Night”… It sounds like Tom was filled a six pack of courage will riding down a multi-colored street at night looking for the ghost of Jack Kerouac. By the time we get to “Shiver Me Timbers”,  the listener quite possibly has been transported to a different time all together. The mood Tom sets with this next gem could easily be the soundscape to a movie depicting the troubled young man seeking a ship to sail on along the coast of California in the early 1900s.

The next stand-out track is “San Diego Serenade”. Tom’s masterful piano arrangement on this tune is nearly as good as the lyrics he tosses out to his audience. “Glad That You’re Gone” comes up next and once Tom picks up his guitar again, the listener is immediately submerged into a story about Tom’s father and his women trouble. The sweet irony in Tom’s lyrics is a testimony to his father and how sometimes in life we want what we really can’t stand. Visions of Willie Nelson covering this song one day kicks in by the time the off-key croon finishes up this  acoustic number.

The final track at the San Diego show is a spoken word piece accompanied by lounge lizard piano and pictures of a greasy diner at 4:30 in the morning while working on my the fourth cup of coffee with a pen in one hand and a napkin filled with documented similarities between people and breakfast occupy my mind. It is a perfect way to end a set of music that takes the listener to place you may or may not want to go, but with Tom luring you in with his wonderfully melodic piano playing  or his begging hobo ‘esque guitar strumming, you feel that you have experienced something special after listening to this diamond in the rough.

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Thanks to frogster for sharing the show at Dime.

cdr > wav > flac

Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

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Track 01. Better Off Without A Wife 2:32 (4.3MB)
Track 02. The Heart Of Saturday Night 6:20 (10.6MB)
Track 03. On A Foggy Night 3:42 (6.2MB)
Track 04. Shiver Me Timbers 3:47 (6.4MB)
Track 05. Fumblin With The Blues 3:04 (5.2MB)
Track 06. Semi Suite 3:50 (6.4MB)
Track 07. San Diego Serenade 3:07 (5.2MB)
Track 08. Glad That Youre Gone 3:55 (6.6MB)
Track 09. Ice Cream Man 2:32 (4.3MB)
Track 10. Depot Depot 3:25 (5.8MB)
Track 11. The Ghosts Of Saturday Night 4:07 (6.9MB)
41 mins

Click here to order Tom Waits releases.

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  1. 2 Responses to “TOM WAITS - SAN DIEGO 1974”

  2. its always a treat to hear early tom waits, the stories are as good as the songs. Its interesting to hear the early versions of a few of the songs. thanks bigO.

    btw- “Glad That You’re Gone” is titled “Poncho’s Lament” on the album “The Early Years”, and yes it would be nice to hear Willie cover it.

    By barth on Dec 3, 2015

  3. some great stuff this visit. thanks :)

    By (the actual) Tony on Dec 15, 2015

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