Tom Waits, the whiskey-toned crooner of America’s internal song took on another American tradition when he appeared on the fishing television show ‘Fishing With John’ in 1991.
In one of the more curious situations you are likely to find Tom Waits, the singer joins musician and actor John Lurie on an epic fishing trip to Jamaica in the hopes of catching the nation’s fish of choice – the Red Snapper.
You might be wondering why Waits joined Lurie to take part in this trip, Waits spent most of his time on the trip wondering the same thing – out loud. “I dunno why I ever let you talk me into this,” he grumbles. “It’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
Absurd for these two is anywhere outside of New York. While Waits’ career as an outsider looking in on the music scene, Lurie had followed a similar obscure path to fame, Having started out as a saxophonist for a punk-jazz band Lounge Lizards he also went on to give clarifying performances in Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise and Down by Law.
Following some serious investment from Japanese backers, Lurie decided to take on a rather more straight-laced career as the host of a fishing show, he knew he would call on some of his friends from the New York art scene to add a certain lunacy to proceedings. Jarmusch would join Lurie for the first episode but it would be Waits’ appearance on the second episode of the 1991 show that would make a piece of cult television.
It’s fair to say that Waits did not enjoy his time ‘Fishing with John’. The singer spends most of his time on camera in a grumpy mood. So much so that he allegedly didn’t speak to Lurie for two years after this excursion.
Finding it entirely ridiculous that he might have to get up early (5 am is quite early to be fair) and generally being hot and bothered – the only real moment of joy comes when Waits finally catches a fish and he quickly moves to put it down his trousers.
All that and more in a show that Los Angeles Times said was like “watching ‘Waiting For Godot’ on water” – you can see Tom Waits appear on ‘Fishing With John’ below.
Source: Open Culture