About Every Tom Waits Song (aka What’s He Building in There?)

Every Tom Waits Song is an email newsletter that — as you might have guessed from the title — explores Every Tom Waits Song. (My other newsletter, about Bob Dylan, I titled Flagging Down the Double E’s, so I decided to go a little more literal this time). If you subscribe, every Sunday morning a short essay about another Tom Waits song will land in your inbox.

I’ll be going through the Waits catalog alphabetically rather than chronologically. It seemed more fun to jump around eras rather than having to wait a year or more to even get to, say, Swordfishtrombones.

And I’m not just including songs on the proper albums either. Bonus tracks, guest appearances, outtakes from his theater work, it’s all fair game.

The list I’m working from is 464 songs long, so we’re going to be here a while.

You’re innocent when you subscribe…

Below I’ll keep a running list of what’s already run. Two lists, actually — the first will group the songs alphabetically (the order they ran in the newsletter), and then the second will group them by album for those that want to browse that way.

So catch up on what you’ve missed below, and subscribe to make sure you get new entries. It’s free, all you need to do is enter your email above.

Songs So Far - Alphabetical


“Adios Lounge”
“After You Die”
- ran first
“Ain’t Goin’ Down to the Well”
“All Stripped Down”
“All The Time”
“All the World Is Green”
“Altar Boy”
“Annie’s Back in Town”
“Another Man's Vine”
“Anywhere I Lay My Head”
“Apartment for Rent”
“Army Ants”


“Baby Gonna Leave Me”
"Baby I'm Not a Baby Anymore (Beatrice Theme)"
"Back in the Crowd"
"Back in the Good Old World"
"Bad As Me"

"Bad Liver and a Broken Heart"
"Barber Shop"
"Bella Ciao"
"Bend Down the Branches"
"Better Off Without a Wife"
"Big Black Mariah"
"Big Face Money"
"Big in Japan"
"Big Joe and Phantom 309"
"Black Box Theme"
"Black Market Baby"
"The Black Rider"
"Black Wings"
"Blind Love"
"Blow Wind Blow"
"Blue Skies"
"Blue Valentines"
"Bone Chain"
"Books of Moses"
"Bottom of the World"
"The Briar and the Rose"
"Bride of Rain Dog"
"Broken Bicycles"
"Brother Can You Spare A Dime?"
"Buzz Fledderjohn"


"Candy Apple Red"
"Cannon Song"
"Carnival (Brunello Del Montalcino)"
"Carnival Bob's Confession"
"Cemetery Polka"
"Chase the Clouds Away"
"Children's Story"
"Chocolate Jesus"
"Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis"
"Cinny's Waltz"
"Clang Boom Steam"
"Clap Hands"

Songs So Far - By Album

Nighthawks at the Diner (1975)

Small Change (1976)

Foreign Affairs (1977)

Blue Valentine (1978)

One from the Heart (1982)

Rain Dogs (1985)

Franks Wild Years (1987)

Night on Earth (1992)

Bone Machine (1992)

The Black Rider (1993)

Mule Variations (1999)

Alice (2002)

Blood Money (2002)

Real Gone (2004)

Orphans: Brawlers (2006)

Orphans: Bastards (2006)

Bad As Me (2011)

Non-Album Tracks

Guest appearances

Subscribe to Every Tom Waits Song

Going alphabetically through the entire Waits catalog, one song at a time


Ray Padgett 

Writes live-Dylan newsletter Flagging Down the Double E's. 'Pledging My Time' interviews book out 2023. https://many.bio/pledging