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Foreign Affairs:Tom Waits

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Foreign Affairs is an album by Tom Waits, released in 1977 on Elektra Entertainment. It was produced by Bones Howe, and featured Bette Midler singing a duet with Waits on "I Never Talk to Strangers".


 [hide*1 Production


Bones Howe, the album's producer, remembers the album's original concept and production approach thus:

[Waits] talked to me about doing this other material [...] He said, "I'm going to do the demos first, and then I'm gonna let you listen to them. Then we should talk about what it should be." I listened to the material and said, "It's like a black-and-white movie." That's where the cover came from. The whole idea that it was going to be a black-and-white movie. It's the way it seemed to me when we were putting it together. Whether or not it came out that way, I don't have any idea, because there's such metamorphosis when you're working on [records]. They change and change.[1]


Pictured on the cover with Waits is a Native American woman named Marsheila Cockrell, who worked at the box office of The Troubadour in Los Angeles. "She was a girl who was... not a girlfriend but she thought she was a girlfriend."[2]

For the album cover Waits wanted to convey the film-noir mood that coloured so many of the songs. Veteran Hollywood portraitist George Hurrell was hired to shoot Waits, both alone and in a clutch with a shadowy female whose ring-encrusted right hand clamped a passport to his chest. The back-cover shot of Tom was particularly good, casting him as a slicked-back hoodlum—half matinee idol, half hair-trigger psychopath. The inner sleeve depicted the soused singer clawing at the keys of his Tropicana upright.[2]

Track listing[edit]Edit

All tracks written by Tom Waits, except where noted.

Side one

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Cinny's Waltz" (Instrumental) 2:17
2. "Muriel"   3:33
3. "I Never Talk to Strangers"   3:38
4. "Medley: Jack & Neal/California, Here I Come"   "California, Here I Come" by Joseph MeyerAl Jolson and Buddy De Sylva 5:01
5. "A Sight for Sore Eyes"   4:40

Side two

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Potter's Field"   Words: Waits - Music: Bob Alcivar 8:40
2. "Burma-Shave"   6:34
3. "Barber Shop"   3:54
4. "Foreign Affair"   3:46


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