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Music / Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards

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You can put all of my possessions here in Jesus' name, and nail a sign on the door

Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards is a compilation album by Tom Waits, released in 2006 through ANTI- (in conjunction with Epitaph Records outside the US). 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.


  1. "Lie to Me" – 2:10
  2. "LowDown" – 4:15
  3. "2:19" – 5:02
  4. "Fish in the Jailhouse" – 4:22
  5. "Bottom of the World" – 5:42
  6. "Lucinda" – 4:52
  7. "Ain't Goin’ Down to the Well" – 2:28
  8. "Lord I've Been Changed" – 2:28
  9. "Puttin' on the Dog" – 3:39
  10. "Road to Peace" – 7:17
  11. "All the Time" – 4:33
  12. "The Return of Jackie and Judy" – 3:28
  13. "Walk Away" – 2:43
  14. "Sea of Love" – 3:43
  15. "Buzz Flederjohn" – 4:12
  16. "Rains on Me" – 3:20


  1. "Bend Down the Branches" – 1:06
  2. "You Can Never Hold Back Spring" – 2:26
  3. "Long Way Home" – 3:10
  4. "Widow's Grove" – 4:58
  5. "Little Drop of Poison" – 3:09
  6. "Shiny Things" – 2:20
  7. "World Keeps Turning" – 4:16
  8. "Tell It to Me" – 3:08
  9. "Never Let Go" – 3:13
  10. "Fannin Street" – 5:01
  11. "Little Man" – 4:33
  12. "It's Over" – 4:40
  13. "If I Have to Go" – 2:15
  14. "Goodnight Irene" – 4:47
  15. "The Fall of Troy" – 3:01
  16. "Take Care of All My Children" – 2:31
  17. "Down by the Train" – 5:39
  18. "Danny Says" – 3:05
  19. "Jayne's Blue Wish" – 2:29
  20. "Young at Heart" – 3:41


  1. "What Keeps Mankind Alive" – 2:09
  2. "Children’s Story" – 1:42
  3. "Heigh Ho" – 3:32
  4. "Army Ants" – 3:25
  5. "Books of Moses" – 2:49
  6. "Bone Chain" – 1:03
  7. "Two Sisters" – 4:55
  8. "First Kiss" – 2:40
  9. "Dog Door" – 2:43
  10. "Redrum" – 1:12
  11. "Nirvana" – 2:12
  12. "Home I'll Never Be" – 2:28
  13. "Poor Little Lamb" – 1:43
  14. "Altar Boy" – 2:48
  15. "The Pontiac" – 1:54
  16. "Spidey's Wild Ride" – 2:03
  17. "King Kong" – 5:29
  18. "On the Road" – 4:14
  19. "Dog Treat" – 2:56
  20. "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
  • 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:
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Special Guest: Blues singer Charlie Musselwhite plays harmonica on some of the tracks.
    • Les Claypool and Larry LaLonde (Primus) play bass and guitar, respectively.
    • 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.