Book of the Day: Waits/Corbijn 77- 11
WAITS/CORBIJN ‘77-‘11 is the chronicle of an artistic collaboration that reaches back more than 35 years, to those first black-and-white photographs of Tom Waits taken by a young Anton Corbijn in Holland in 1977. Corbijn would go on to acclaim for his iconic enigmatic portraits of musicians and other artists from U2 and Miles Davis to Robert De Niro and Clint Eastwood to Damien Hirst and Gerhard Richter also becoming a designer, a pioneer in music video and more recently, an award-winning director of feature films. By 1977, Tom Waits was already known world-wide for a series of stunning, timeless albums, filled with songs of a noir-tinged Los Angeles that owed as much to writers like John Fante and Jack Kerouac as it did to jazz, blues and tin-pan alley that had soaked into Waits’ pores from childhood. Ahead of Waits lay his partnership with Kathleen Brennan leading to such touchstone recordings as Rain Dogs and Mule Variations his film work with the likes of Francis Ford Coppola and Jim Jarmusch, and his stage projects with legendary director Robert Wilson.
In those first photographs, then, are the seeds of these two intertwined careers, feeding off each other. Waits’ vibrant persona helped Corbijn define his narrative, cinematic style of still photography: images that felt as if you were coming in on the middle of some unfolding drama. Corbijn complimented Waits’ theatrical side in a way that synced beautifully with the experimental music he was making with Brennan. “Anton picks up a small black box, points it at you and all the leaves fall from the trees. The shadows now are long and scary, the house looks completely abandoned and I look like a handsome… undertaker. I love working with Anton, he’s someone with a real point of view. Believe me, I won’t go jumping off rocks wearing only a Dracula cape for just anyone,” Waits says.