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Revisit Tom Waits' brilliant live cover of James Brown song 'I Feel Good' from 1979


“I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.”—Tom Waits

As music venues remain closed amid strict social distancing measures, we’re exploring the Far Out archives to inject a live music shot into our arm.

Waits, often portrayed as the anti-hero of folk, has traversed genre as easily as he moves from the gutter to the stage and has never truly been held back by anything other than himself. Starting work predominantly as a jazz musician during the 1970s, Waits has experimented over the years and has added his own special influence in the genres of blues, rock and roll and, at times, punk.

A prolific reader, a student of film and a man who generally takes inspiration from all means of cultural movements, getting involved with some of Waits music can seem a daunting one at first. With 16 studio albums spanning from his debut in 1973 right up until his most recent in 2011, each of Waits’ records have been a reflection of his mindset in that moment.

Here though, we’re taking a trip back to one evening on October 7th, 1979, to a live show at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, USA. Backed by Herbert Hardesty on the saxophone, Arthur Richards’ electric guitar, Big John Tomassie on the drums and Greg Cohen playing the bass, Waits rolls through a dreamy jazz rendition of a James Brown classic.

The recording, fully capturing the room, includes woops and cheers from the crowd in spurts in between Waits’ gravelling voice. Allowing his band to freestyle as and when they feel the need, Waits’ rendition of the songs a freeflowing, relaxed and full of effortless charm,

Stream the recording, below.