Few songwriters can claim a legion of loyal fans like Tom Waits can. The gravel-voiced troubadour’s songs for misfits, the lonely, and the downtrodden are so beloved they have come to define the American experience for many.
Tom rarely performs live these days so fans must turn to his albums, and, increasingly, to tribute acts to get their fix.
Fortunately for Denver fans, there is Lost Dog Ensemble. The David Dinsmore-led tribute band recently made Westword’s “Ten of Denver’s Best Tribute Bands” list. Westword praised Lost Dog Ensemble for being “masterful at bringing the essence of Waits to the stage through whimsical changes in lead singer David Dinsmore’s cadence.”
Lost Dog Ensemble plays Tuft Theatre at Swallow Hill Music on Friday, March 23. We asked David for a playlist of Tom Waits songs to get us primed for the show. He responded by sharing some of his favorite Tom Waits songs as covered by other artists and by briefly telling us why he finds them so compelling.
David told us, “Tom Waits is one of America’s greatest songwriters. His songs cover the breadth of the life experience. For this reason they have been covered by many varied and amazing performers. Here are some of my favorites.”
David’s list and thoughts can be found below. Click on the artist name and song title to listen to the track via YouTube. Or you can check out the songs on this Spotify playlist.* The playlist also includes Tom’s versions for side-by-side listening. Enjoy!
Holly Cole – “Train Song”
The first time I had heard Tom Waits covered as a jazz song in this breathtaking live performance.
Blind Boys of Alabama – “Way Down in a Hole”
How cool is this?
John Hammond – “Get Behind the Mule”
Tom Waits produced a collection of his songs for the blues singer. “This is the deep, the dark stuff, this is the facts. Right here” -John Hammond
Bruce Springsteen – “Jersey Girl”
How could Bruce Springsteen not want to sing this? You totally get to just belt it out and it’s an anthem!
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – “Trampled Rose”
Beautiful version of a beautiful song.
Los Lobos – “Jockey Full of Bourbon”
Flipped for a more Latin vibe.
Rod Stewart – “Downtown Train”
One of Rod Stewart’s most famous songs was written by Tom Waits.
Willie Nelson & Sheryl Crow – “Come on Up to the House”
Dig in on the gospel vibe.
Norah Jones – “The Long Way Home”
Perfect for the Texas songster.
St. Vincent “Tango Till They’re Sore”
Live recording for St. Vincent’s Spin cover shoot, she chooses the Tom Waits classic.
*St. Vincent’s cover of “Tango Till They’re Sore” is not available on Spotify. We have have used Madeleine Peyroux’s version as a substitute on the playlist.