Tom Waits On … Finishing Songs

Making a record, you don’t really finish, you just stop. You just keep painting it and doing things to it and eventually, you have to stop.

Tom Waits on Tom Waits: Interviews and Encounters (p.224)

You don’t always know when a song is finished and I’m not sure if a song is ever finished to be honest with you. You know they’re constantly evolving. It’s like jump-rope songs you know. When are they done? They are never done. You know people are always changing them, changing the tempo, adding new verses, getting rid of old verses. So I mean, when you are ready to record there is a certain finality to that. . . a lot of people say, “You really captured something on that.” There’s something alive in a song and the trick to recording them is to capture something and have it be taken alive. So there’s always a trick in the studio.

Interviews And Encounters (p.337)

Somebody told me if you’re stuck in a song and you can’t move, take out the best lines. Get rid of them. Now finish it. That’s good advice.

Interviews And Encounters (p.439)

More Tom Waits wisdom here

(you can find a lot of the interviews online at

About mattblick

Songwriter/Singer from Nottingham, UK. My 2nd EP, Everything In The World Is Fighting Everything In The Sky, is out now. I'm blogging (& podcasting) through the entire Beatles catalogue at Beatles Songwriting Academy. In my spare time I wish I had some spare time.
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