Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards is an epic three disc set from Tom Waits, released in 2006. It started life as a fairly standard b-sides and rarities compilation (sometimes known as an "odds 'n' sods" collection, after an album in this mode by The Who). Waits quickly decided he had no interest in releasing such an album, so he and wife/collaborator Kathleen Brennan set about making something else: a tour through his past and present work divided into thematic thirds. New material was recorded for the project as well. The first disc covers Waits' harder, more rockish material. The second is dedicated to ballads and acoustic-sounding songs. The third is made up of Waits' experimental songs and not-quite-songs. There is some bleed between the groups, and Large Ham moments from Waits on all three. Altogether a good introduction to the man and his work. It was later released as a 7LP boxset with the last LP consisting of tracks not on the CD release.
- Lie to Me 2:10
- LowDown 4:15
- 2:19 5:02
- Fish in the Jailhouse 4:22
- Bottom of the World 5:42
- Lucinda 4:52
- Aint Goin Down to the Well 2:28
- Lord Ive Been Changed 2:28
- Puttin on the Dog 3:39
- Road to Peace 7:17
- All the Time 4:33
- The Return of Jackie and Judy 3:28
- Walk Away 2:43
- Sea of Love 3:43
- Buzz Flederjohn 4:12
- Rains on Me 3:20
- Bend Down the Branches 1:06
- You Can Never Hold Back Spring 2:26
- Long Way Home 3:10
- Widows Grove 4:58
- Little Drop of Poison 3:09
- Shiny Things 2:20
- World Keeps Turning 4:16
- Tell It to Me 3:08
- Never Let Go 3:13
- Fannin Street 5:01
- Little Man 4:33
- Its Over 4:40
- If I Have to Go 2:15
- Goodnight Irene 4:47
- The Fall of Troy 3:01
- Take Care of All My Children 2:31
- Down by the Train 5:39
- Danny Says 3:05
- Jaynes Blue Wish 2:29
- Young at Heart 3:41
- What Keeps Mankind Alive 2:09
- Childrens Story 1:42
- Heigh Ho 3:32
- Army Ants 3:25
- Books of Moses 2:49
- Bone Chain 1:03
- Two Sisters 4:55
- First Kiss 2:40
- Dog Door 2:43
- Redrum 1:12
- Nirvana 2:12
- Home Ill Never Be 2:28
- Poor Little Lamb 1:43
- Altar Boy 2:48
- The Pontiac 1:54
- Spideys Wild Ride 2:03
- King Kong 5:29
- On the Road 4:14
- Dog Treat 2:56
- Missing My Son 3:38
Orphans: Tropes, More Tropes &... Other Tropes:
- Alliterative Title: "Orphans, Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards", "Army Ants", "King Kong" and "Dog Door".
- Anguished Declaration of Love: "Tell It to Me" is about a man who returns to his hometown to find that his girlfriend has married a richer man and is also raising the daughter he had with the narrator as her husband's daughter.I know you will not see me
but I know you have a daughter
I hear she has my eyes
they say she calls him father
and he's proud of her
even believes all of your lies
but for all your faithless beauty
I'd give all my tomorrows
if you're still thinking of me...
- Appeal to Familial Wisdom: "Bottom of the World" begins with some of the singer's father's advice and his response to it:My daddy told me, lookin' back
The best friend you'll have is a railroad track
So when I was 13 I said, I'm rollin' my own
And I'm leavin' Missouri and I'm never comin' home
- Corpsing: "Missing Son" is told by Waits and an Urban Legend story that he stretched into a "Shaggy Dog" Story, where the deliberately underwhelming punchline is followed by a brief pause and a deranged-sounding wheeze of a laugh.
- The Cover Changes the Meaning:
- As sung by Lead Belly, "Goodnight Irene" is one of American music's great obsession songs, the confession of a man so tormented by the object of his affections that he wishes her never to have been born. On this cover, the singer sounds so ecstatically drunk that he's on his way to forgetting her name... and his own.
- "Heigh Ho", a cover from the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs song, which is so unrecognizable that the Disney company even phoned up Waits to check whether this song was indeed based on the Disney song.
- Not just phoned to check. They actually threatened to sue for changing the lyrics. Our Tom did no such thing. He just changed everything else, so that his version sounds like a paean to slave labor.
- Cover Version: Lots of these, including songs written by or associated with:
- The Ramones ("The Return of Jackie and Judy" and "Danny Says", both from End of the Century)
- Phil Phillips ("Sea of Love")
- Skip Spence ("The Books of Moses")
- Daniel Johnston ("King Kong", from Johnston's album Yip/Jump Music)
- Bertolt Brecht and Music/Kurt Weill ("What Keeps Man Alive?" from The Threepenny Opera)
- Frank Sinatra ("Young at Heart")
- The latter in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ("Heigh Ho")
- Deliberately Monochrome: The cover is in black-and-white.
- Distinct Triple Album
- Everything Is an Instrument: "Army Ants" is Waits just reading quotes from nature encyclopaedias and it sounds like its some kind of conspiracy theory.
- A few of the songs' instrumentation consists mostly (if not only) of Waits beatboxing along to his own vocals. Special mention goes to "Lucinda" and "Spidey's Wild Ride".
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "King Kong" is a scene by scene, beatboxed recap of King Kong (1933).
- Face on the Cover: Waits in barker mode, standing in front of a creepy carnival attraction.
- Genre Roulette: By necessity, really. The material comes from a period of a couple of decades, when there was a lot of experimentation.
- Hidden Track: "Missing My Son".
- Hobos: Tom sounds like he's enjoying the vagabond life in "Bottom of the World".
- I'm Going to Hell for This: "Lucinda"I left Texas to follow Lucinda
Now I'll never see Heaven or home.
- Murder Ballad: "Widow's Grove" is an eerie step-by-step of a murder, apparently over jealousy.
- Mythology Gag: "Army Ants" ends with a reference to Bone Machine's "Earth Died Screaming":And as we discussed last semester
The army ants will leave nothing but your bones
- One-Man Song: "Little Man", "Buzz Flederjohn"
- One-Woman Song: "Lucinda", "Goodnight, Irene"
- One-Word Title: "Redrum" and "Nirvana".
- Parental Love Song: The father-to-son lullaby "Little Man".
- Personal Raincloud: "Everywhere I go, it rains on me."
- Protest Song: "Road to Peace", about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
- Questioning Title?: "What Keeps Mankind Alive?"
- Regional Riff: Related to its subject matter, "Road to Peace" contains elements of both klezmer and Arabic music.
- Repurposed Pop Song: Many songs on this album originally appeared on soundtrack albums, tribute albums and/or B-sides of singles and hadn't been compiled on a Waits studio album before.
- "Lucinda" has the lyrics "the Devil dances inside empty pockets", a reference to Country singer 's song "If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets).
- "What Keeps Mankind Alive?" is lifted from Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's The Three Penny Opera.
- "Children's Story" is an adaptation from the 19th century play Woyzeck by Georg Büchner.
- "Nirvana" is an adaptation of a poem by Charles Bukowski.
- "Home I'll Never Be" and "On The Road" are based on texts by Jack Kerouac.
- "Heigh Ho" is an adaptation from the eponymous song from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and appeared on the 1988 Disney tribute album Stay Awake.
- "Bottom of the World" was used in the 2003 documentary Long Gone.
- "Walk Away" was previously released on the soundtrack of Dead Man Walking.
- "Sea Of Love" was previously released on the soundtrack of Sea of Love.
- In Shrek 2 Captain Hook is seen playing and singing "Little Drop Of Poison" in a Bad-Guy Bar.
- Special Guest: Blues singer Charlie Musselwhite plays harmonica on some of the tracks. Les Claypool and Larry LaLonde (Primus) plays bass. Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) also appears playing guitar, bass and drums.
- Spoken Word in Music: Disc three contains a lot of this, as well as some spoken word without music.
- Train Song: "2:19", about a train leaving at that time, as well as "Down There by the Train".
- You Are Worth Hell: "Never Let Go"I've only got one leg to stand
you can send me to hell
but I'll never let go of your hand.