Blerd: Hello, sir.
Gonzo: ‘ello ‘ello, Mr. “I’m not leaving my couch but actually I’m going to kick some ass at the gym!”
B: Do we have time tonight?
G: Yeah, let’s bang it out! I’m up, I believe.
B: *breathes sigh of relief*
G: I wouldn’t get too relieved just yet.
G: We start out in a hip and innocent enough place this time around.
B: This sounds ominous.
G: We’ll also give Hall & Oates a break for now.
B: As we should!
G: Without further ado…
B: Ha! I have never heard this version!
G: I’m sure he’d appreciate it…accompanied with a shot and a pack of cigarettes.
B: Man, there was a video for this?
G: This is some “120 Minutes” shit right here.
…and who knew that Tom Waits bothered to release singles? This one’s from 1985’s Rain Dogs LP.
To no one’s surprise, it didn’t chart.
B: I’m confused as to why Tom Waits is undulating in his seat.
G: Constipated, maybe. Too much coffee and cigarettes.
B: I need to see this movie. I’ve heard many good things.
G: There are some great scenes, this is one of my faves.
B: One to add to the rental list.
G: Alright, Blerd. Deep breath.
B: As long as it’s not a Black Eyed Peas cover of “Downtown Train”, I’m good.
G: They did sample it in a b-side…just kidding.
B: Oh God. I would kill you.
G: Train. Downtown. Videos like this don’t NEED literal versions!
B: Well, where else are you gonna shoot a video for a song called “Downtown Train”?
G: …and maybe ol’ Rod could use a lozenge, too.
B: Not as many as Tom, but yes!
G: This sounds much more like it would be included in the hit date movie of the season.
B: It’s certainly much more palatable for pop radio. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing…
G: Rod had a string of pop hits in the late 1980s/early 1990s. this, The Motown Song, Forever Young, that Gulf War song…
B: There was a Gulf War song by Rod Stewart?
G: Ah fuck! Why can’t I think of the name?
B: Really? They played that during the Gulf War??
(conveniently drawing a blank)
oh wait, it’s coming back to me. DAMN YOU!
G: OK, good. I was beginning to think that I created that association in my head.
B: Nope, i remember it.
G: I’ve never been a Rod Stewart fan, but I’m suddenly a little taken aback by the number of hits in this period.
B: …and that wasn’t even his most prolific period!
G: Hmm. Maybe I’ll be Rod Stewart for Halloween.
Rod Stewart’s version of “Downtown Train” of course fared much better on the charts than Tom Waits’ original.
B: Which is to say “it charted”.
#3 on the Hot 100, #1 on Adult Contemporary and #1 on Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks.
B: Back when rock radio played Rod Stewart!
G: There were some other versions of the song as well.
B: Funny you should mention that…
G: I did not know until tonight that Bob Seger recorded a version.
B: I’m debating whether i want to take the plunge and listen to Seger’s version…
G: It sounds exactly like you think Bob Seger covering “Downtown Train” would sound like.
B: Oh HELL yeah!
G: Good call on Everything But the Girl, by the way.
B: It’s good, right? do you have their Acoustic covers album?
G: I do not. I actually don’t know them that well.
B: Oh MAN! I should make you a playlist.
G: You SHOULD!
SO, Mr. Blerdy… where do we stand?
B: Well, I have to say I’m Team Rod on this one.
B: Don’t oof me!
G: I’d be a total liar if I said that it wasn’t the only version I knew for years.
B: Probably that way for most folks, especially in our general age range.
G: But I’ve never really liked Rod’s version. It’s too late ’80s adult contemporary for my liking.
B: It’s definitely slick, but Rod’s still singing with passion and oomph.
I’m going all in for Tom Waits on this one.
And I swear, I’m not just trying to up my hipster quotient, I think it’s a legitimately better rendition.
Poor Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Not even in the running!
B: I’ll admit to liking Seger’s version more than I thought I would.
G: He’s definitely doing that Seger schtick.
B: I cant say I dislike Waits’ original, but I guess my ears are more attuned to Rod? I dunno. Waits’ voice is definitely an acquired taste.
So…is this a rare difference of opinion?
G: Indeed, it is!
G: Is that a first?
B: It might be!!
B: Had to happen sometime, right?
B: Strangely, id considered doing a (different) song of his (Tom Waits) in a column a while back.
G: Ooh, I have guesses. Save it!
B: I shall!!
Will the master of the gravelly growl (Waits, not Stewart) make a return appearance? Find out in two weeks, when we publish our next Blerd & Gonzo cover convo!
Incoming search terms:
- young tom waits