Hi folks. I'm Steve from Cover Freak, a blog devoted to cover songs. Kurtis has generously invited me to be a guest poster on his blog and I'm happy to contribute to such a fine endeavor.
Folks tend to either love TOM WAITS or hate him. He started his musical career as a nicotine-stained booze-soaked piano-jazz beat poet. Boy that's a lot of hyphens. You might be familiar with his songs Step Right Up or The Piano Has Been Drinking from that era.
In the mid-80s he radically reinvented his music, adding unconventional instruments and developing a more primitive sound. This song was recorded shortly after he made that transition but it's relatively mainstream in its arrangement, at least compared to his later stuff.
Even as a child I realized that mining is a very dangerous job. There's a simulated coal mine at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry that emphasizes the dangers of mining, and of course there are the unfortunate news stories of miners being trapped when mine shafts collapse.
So it always seemed weird to me that the Seven Dwarfs were so chipper about going down to the mine. What's wrong with those guys, I wondered. Seems that Tom Waits was wondering the same thing. In this song woozy keyboards and trash-can percussion conjure up a harrowing world where the dwarfs are condemned to a lifetime of hazardous backbreaking manual labor. And they're not happy about it. They'd much rather be back home, getting freaky with the tall chick.
Thanks Kurtis for letting me post on your blog. Shameless plug: For more demented covers, swing on over to Cover Freak.