September 8: Bone Machine by Tom Waits was released in 1992

Bone Machine 1

September 8: Bone Machine by Tom Waits was released in 1992

“it ain’t no sin, to take off your skin and dance around in your bones”
~Tom Waits

From Wikipedia:

Released September 8, 1992
Recorded Prairie Sun Recording, Cotati, California
Genre Rock, experimental rock, blues rock
Length 53:30
Label Island
Producer Tom Waits

Bone Machine is a critically acclaimed and award-winning album by Tom Waits, released in 1992 on Island Records. It won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album, and features guest appearances by Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, Primus’ Les Claypool, and The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards.

Bone Machine marked a return to studio material for Waits, coming a full five years after his previous studio album, Franks Wild Years (1987). The album is often noted for its dark lyrical themes of death and murder, and for its rough, stripped-down, percussion-heavy blues rock style.

Tom Waits

Recording & production:

Bone Machine was recorded and produced entirely at the Prairie Sun Recording studios in Cotati, California in a room of Studio C known as “the Waits Room,” in the old cement hatchery rooms of the cellar of the buildings.

Mark “Mooka” Rennick, Prairie Sun studio chief said:

[Waits] gravitated toward these “echo” rooms and created the Bone Machine aural landscape. […] What we like about Tom is that he is a musicologist. And he has a tremendous ear. His talent is a national treasure.

Waits said of the bare-bones studio, “I found a great room to work in, it’s just a cement floor and a hot water heater. Okay, we’ll do it here. It’s got some good echo.” References to the recording environment and process were made in the field-recorded interview segments made for the promotional CD release, Bone Machine: The Operator’s Manual, which threaded together full studio tracks and conversation for a pre-recorded radio show format.


The cover photo, which consists of a blurred black-and-white, close-up image of Waits in a leather skullcap with horns and protective goggles, was taken by Jesse Dylan, the son of Bob Dylan. He wears this same outfit in the video for “Goin’ Out West” and “I Don’t Wanna Grow up”.


  • Rollings Stone Magazine – Rob O’Connor:………….. Throughout the album lonesome travelers and restless strangers battle their lives with drink, religion and the active search for somewhere better than here. “A little trouble makes it worth the going/And a little rain never hurt no one/The world is round/And so I’ll go around/You must risk something that matters,” Waits sings on “A Little Rain,” with David Phillips’s pedal steel sweeping through the background. No one needs convincing.It’s a song older than Waits himself — older than Hank Williams, older than Robert Johnson — that Waits is chasing, the simple mystery of where life goes: “I don’t wanna float a broom/Fall in love and get married and then boom/How the hell did it get here so soon?/I don’t wanna grow up.” Albums this rich with spiritual longing prove the validity of that effort, no matter the odds.Read more @ Rolling Stone Magazine

  • Allmusic – Steve Huey:
    Perhaps Tom Waits’ most cohesive album, Bone Machine is a morbid, sinister nightmare, one that applied the quirks of his experimental ’80s classics to stunningly evocative — and often harrowing — effect. In keeping with the title’s grotesque image of the human body, Bone Machine is obsessed with decay and mortality, the ease with which earthly existence can be destroyed. The arrangements are accordingly stripped of all excess flesh; the very few, often non-traditional instruments float in distinct separation over the clanking junkyard percussion that dominates the record. It’s a chilling, primal sound made all the more otherworldly (or, perhaps, underworldly) by Waits’ raspy falsetto and often-distorted roars and growls. Matching that evocative power is Waits’ songwriting, which is arguably the most consistently focused it’s ever been. Rich in strange and extraordinarily vivid imagery, many of Waits’ tales and musings are spun against an imposing backdrop of apocalyptic natural fury, underlining the insignificance of his subjects and their universally impending doom. Death is seen as freedom for the spirit, an escape from the dread and suffering of life in this world — which he paints as hellishly bleak, full of murder, suicide, and corruption. .. Read more over @ allmusic

Track listing:

Songs written by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, except where noted.

1. “Earth Died Screaming” Waits 3:39
2. “Dirt in the Ground” 4:08
3. “Such a Scream” Waits 2:07
4. “All Stripped Down” Waits 3:04
5. “Who Are You” 3:58
6. “The Ocean Doesn’t Want Me” Waits 1:51
7. “Jesus Gonna Be Here” Waits 3:21
8. “A Little Rain (for Clyde)” 2:58
9. “In the Colosseum” 4:50
10. “Goin’ Out West” 3:19
11. “Murder in the Red Barn” 4:29
12. “Black Wings” 4:37
13. “Whistle Down The Wind (for Tom Jans)” Waits 4:36
14. “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” 2:31
15. “Let Me Get Up on It” (Instrumental) Waits 0:55
16. “That Feel” Waits, Keith Richards


  • Tom Waits – Vocals (all songs), Chamberlin (1,6,9), Percussion (1,3,4,5,6,15), Guitar (1,3,5,12,14,16), Sticks (1), Piano (2,13), Upright Bass (7), Conundrum (9), Drums (10,11,12,16), Acoustic Guitar (14)
  • Brain – Drums (3,9)
  • Kathleen Brennan – Sticks (1)
  • Ralph Carney – Alto Sax (2,3), Tenor Sax (2,3), Bass Clarinet (2)
  • Les Claypool – Electric Bass (1)
  • Joe Gore – Guitar (4,10,12)
  • David Hidalgo – Violin (13), Accordion (13)
  • Joe Marquez – Sticks (1), Banjo (11)
  • David Phillips – Pedal Steel Guitar (8,13), Steel Guitar (16)
  • Keith Richards – Guitar (16), Vocal (16)
  • Larry Taylor – Upright Bass (1,2,4,5,8,9,10,11,12,14,16), Guitar (7)
  • Waddy Wachtel – Guitar (16)

Produced by Tom Waits. Associate Producer: Kathleen Brennan

Recorded by Biff Dawes, except ” Whistle Down the Wind” and “A Little Rain” recorded by Joe Marquez. Mixed by Tchad Blake, Biff Dawes, and Joe Marquez. “That Feel” mixed by Joe Blaney at Studio 900. 2nd Engineer: Joe Marquez, 3rd Engineer: Shawn Michael Morris

Going out west:

Earth died screaming (from footage edited together from the movie 28 Weeks Later):

Dirt In The Ground (Live, Atlanta 2008, audio):

I Don’t Wanna Grow Up (official video):

Bone Machine @ spotify:

-Egil & Hallgeir

5 thoughts on “September 8: Bone Machine by Tom Waits was released in 1992”

  1. Jeeez, time flies … I bought this when it was released. One of my favourite albums by one of my favourite artists.

    1. Yes, time flies, I also bought it when it was released and love it even more today than I did then.

      Thanks for your comment!

      – Hallgeir

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