Tom Waits, “Hold On”

Just when you think you have Tom Waits pinned down as an artist, he changes it up and leaves you playing catch-up. After making a name as a last-call barroom balladeer in the '70s, he switched it up thrillingly in the '80s with a kind of futuristic blues sound on classic albums like Rain Dogs. Ever-evolving, Waits scored another classic with 1999’s Mule Variations, which found him doing a little bit of everything and doing it all real well. “Hold On,” a lovely, dusky ballad written with wife Kathleen Brennan, finds him in a somewhat straightforward mode, yet no less compelling. In an interview with Newsweek when the album was released, Waits said he felt that the song’s message was an important one to deliver. “I thought that was a good thing to say in a song,” he said. “Hold on. We’re all holding onto something. None of us want to come out of the ground. Weeds are holding on. Everything’s holding on. I thought that was a real positive thing to say. It was an optimistic song. Take my hand, stand right here, hold on. We wrote that together, Kathleen and I, and that felt good. Two people who are in love…

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