Tom Waits
Blood Money



by Phil USER (16 Reviews)
May 22nd, 2007 | 14 replies

Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Tom Waits' Blood money delivers full of melancholy themes, vast range of instruments to leave a hauntingly beautiful album.

As I sit here on this glum, gloomy day, I ponder as to what CD will reflect this weather. Tom Waits’ Blood money pops into mind. This album isn’t exactly grim but does comprise of similar themes which one would if it was hauntingly, dark day. The themes are to a cetain extent similar to that of a previous album (Bone Machine) of his. These themes are of misery, despair and other nonchalant, melancholy themes.

The thing that is different from Bone machine is the fact that these themes still seem fresh, not overused. This could be due to the fact that he co-wrote all of the songs with his wife, Kathleen Brennan. Therefore, there are less drunkard ramblings, that is not to say that there is not any of these songs. Songs such as ‘Everything goes to hell’ could be taken at first glance as a paranoid, drunkard preaching about how the world in a way is already hell. This is not entirely true but has some of these sentiments about the song. However, the theme of love occurs in the track ‘Coney island baby’ with lyrics such as ‘She’s a rose, she’s the pearl/ She’s the spin on my world’. ‘God’s away on business’ is a bit anti-religious a he sings ‘God’s away, god’s away/ God’s away on business, business’ with the last business being emphasized. The final track ‘A good man is hard to find’ seems to be a bit of a retrospective track which seems would have been majority written by Kathleen. He sings ‘A good man is hard to find/ Only strangers sleep in my bed’. Most of these themes are similar to that of Bone machine or Rain dogs, however, with the use of Kathleen Brennan also writing with him they don’t get overused or become tedious.

There are a variety of instruments and members which were used on Blood money. Some of the instruments used are a calliope, violin, piano, chamberlain, marimba and floor toms. There are also a few brass instruments used which adds a jazzy, folky feel to the album. Tom doubles up on a few tracks such as ‘Starving in the belly of a whale’ where he uses piano, chamberlain and electric guitar. None of the instruments seem to clutter the album as they are used sparingly and with purpose. A marimba is the cousin instrument to a xylophone where as a chamberlain is similar to that of the mellotron. The instrumentals ‘Knife chase’ and ‘Calliope’ demonstrate that he doesn’t always have to sing to show his feels. ‘Knife chase’ has the feeling of exactly what the title suggests, this is due to the various instruments going off on a tangent, there is not a lot of structure in the song. This could turn off a lot of people, as most of the songs are similar to this.

Blood money is a very good portrait of Tom Waits lyrics. The themes are not overused, even though they are similar to that of previous records Bone Machine and Rain dogs. The themes are mainly of melancholy, however, with the use of co-writer and wife Kathleen Brennan there are themes of love with tracks like ‘Coney island baby’ and ‘A good man is hard to find’ being perfect examples of this. The problem which I’m sure a lot of people will have with Tom Waits is his raspy, drunkard vocals. To me this just stimulates the senses and the themes with which he sings. The instruments are used to get the themes across very effectively. There are a lot of instruments but it never takes away from the lyrics, however, only enhances them.


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user ratings (341)

Comments:Add a Comment 
May 22nd 2007


Is this review too short? Or adequate? I need critism or compliments!

May 22nd 2007


glum, gloomy sounds awkward.
it's weather not whether.
you use the combination of glum/gloomy 2 times in the first paragraph. Switch it up with eerie or something.
"not dissimilar" is awkward.

The review is decent; there are the apparent grammar errors, and some formatting with song titles and lyrics that do not agree with one another. Usually with track, you want to capitalize most words to decipher from lyrics. ex. "Starving in the Belly of a Whale" instead of 'Starving in the belly of a whale'

keep writing, re-reading your reviews, and read other reviews on the site and you will get better.This Message Edited On 05.22.07

May 22nd 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, what he said.

I like this album a lot. It's not one of my favorite from Waits, but more or less everything he's done is awesome.

May 23rd 2007


Is it better now?

Two-Headed Boy
July 18th 2007


Wow...I haven't listened to this album in a loooooong time.

Swell review.

June 12th 2008


I don't find myself listening to it often but some of Waits best songs are on here, Misery Is The River of The World, Everything Goes To Hell and especially God's Away on Business do it for me. The rest of the album I tend not to notice so much, but its solid.

June 6th 2009


How cool is this fan made video for Misery Is The River of The World -

I'm enjoying this album as a whole more and more.

February 19th 2015


goddamn not a single comment except my old boy Meatplow from 2009 haha

album reminds of 1930's gangster suits and playing poker in a room of cigar smoke.

February 19th 2015


Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah it sorta gets lost in his discog but its a little gem still

January 14th 2016


This is what Jack The Ripper would be listening to in 2016.

January 14th 2016


Album Rating: 3.0

Probably the best summary of Wauts I've ever heard, Tuna.

November 2nd 2016


Album Rating: 4.0

A Good Man Is Hard to Find is one of my favorite Waits closers.

September 27th 2017


Album Rating: 3.5

" Waits wrote the songs in 2000 for the play Woyzeck, based on the eponymous story by the poet Georg Büchner. It's about a poor soldier who slowly goes mad and eventually murdered his own wife for a little money."

well that explains a lot

Digging: Coldbones - The Cataclysm

April 12th 2020


Album Rating: 4.0

Currently my favourite Waits album.

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