Posts Tagged ‘Tom Waits’

Press Release: Lowside of the Road by Barney Hoskyns

May 10th, 2010


 The first major biography of one of rock music’s most enduring and compelling figures, Tom Waits, by veteran music journalist Barney Hoskyns


A Life of Tom Waits

 By Barney Hoskyns

“Mr. Hoskyns’s guile, dogged work, and Nick Hornby–esque likeability place him a notch above the average rock biographer. His book lights up and whirls like one of the greasy carnival rides in Mr. Waits’s own sprawling oeuvre.”
—Dwight Garner, New York Times

 “Hoskyns’s superlative overview of one of America’s major (though idiosyncratic) popular artists will likely stand as the best book on his life.”

Library Journal, (Starred Review)

“A respectful, entertaining, and revelatory portrait set within a vivid cultural context.”

Booklist, (Starred Review)


Part carnival barker, part beatnik poet, part avant-garde rabble-rouser, and part crooner, music legend Tom Waits is one of the most revered American singer/songwriters alive today. Waits began his career on the margins of 1970s Los Angeles but has in recent years assumed the sort of mainstream iconic status reserved for people like David Bowie, Lou Reed, or Mick Jagger. Aside from making twenty-plus albums (two of which were nominated for Grammy Awards), he has appeared in films by Francis Ford Coppola (Bram Stoker’s Dracula), Jim Jarmusch (Down by Law), and Terry Gilliam (The Fisher King), and has been nominated for Academy Awards for his soundtrack work. Waits is a famously private man, but venerable British music critic Barney Hoskyns has gained unprecedented access to the closest people in Waits’s world. Through these interviews as well as interviews he conducted with Waits himself, Hoskyns peels away the layers of Waits’s myth and offers a complete portrait of one of the great mavericks of American  popular music in LOWSIDE OF THE ROAD: A Life of Tom Waits (Broadway Books; on sale: May 11, 2010; trade paperback reprint; $19.99).

This long overdue biography charts the journey of an inspired California misfit who transformed himself from a beat-jazz hipster into a remarkable and uncategorizable artist who reinvented music. Waits aided in the creation of the 1970s Los Angeles rock scene and has spent the last thirty-plus years carving out a place for himself among luminaries such as Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Like Edward Hopper, Jack Kerouac, and Quentin Tarantino, Tom Waits is a quintessential American artist. Mostly recognizable as cover tracks, Waits’s songs are mini-epics about hobo romantics, hookers with hearts of gold, nighthawks, drifters, and other seedy characters. Bruce Springsteen popularized “Jersey Girl,” Rod Stewart recorded a well-received version of “Downtown Train,” and the Eagles immortalized “Ol’ ’55.”

LOWSIDE OF THE ROAD is also a book that wrestles with the challenge of portraying the life story of a fiercely private—and mischievously subversive—man. Unusual and enigmatic, Tom Waits is a one-of-a-kind artist, and Hoskyns does a superb job documenting this major figure in contemporary American music.

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Barney Hoskyns is a British music critic and the editor of Rock’s Backpages. He writes regularly on pop culture and the arts for British Vogue, where he was a contributing editor for five years, and for the Times, the Guardian, the Independent, the Observer, and Arena. He is also the author of numerous books, including Waiting for the Sun and Hotel California. He lives and works in London. Visit


A Life of Tom Waits  

By Barney Hoskyns   

Published by Broadway Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.

Trade Paperback Reprint; $19.99; 640 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7679-2709-3

For more information about LOWSIDE OF THE ROAD or to schedule an interview with Barney Hoskyns, please contact Caroline Sill at 212-782-8943 or

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The Crown Publishing Group