Books / Music / Visual Art

Tom Waits (Matt Mahurin, 2019)

Tom Waits by Matt Mahurin

This large format, coffee-table art book will be of interest to people who love music album cover art, collaborations between visual artists and musicians, and, of course, the many fans of Tom Waits. For over three decades photographer and illustrator Matt Mahurin has worked with Waits to produce images to go with his music—to accompany magazine articles, and grace album covers or performance posters. This book collects images that were never published but are too arresting to simply languish unseen in Mahurin’s archives.

Included are illustrations made for 20 of Waits’ songs, each produced as Mahurin listened to the piece repeatedly. Those familiar with Waits’ music and performances know that he is unpredictable, a storyteller with a sense of the absurd, an intense singer songwriter whose rough, gravelly voice pushes the boundaries so that we don’t lose touch with broken reality. The same ragged edge is reflected in the visuals. “Tom’s body language,” Mahurin says, “part-ape, part-ballerina. His facial expressions part-prankster, part-monster—all whispering or wailing what they wanted to be. A huffing bull, a puffing tractor, a suffering clown.”

Book recommended: Tom Waits by Matt Mahurin by Matt Mahurin (New York, NY: Abrams; 2019) 224 pages.