Classic Albums: Mule Variations by Tom Waits

I was going to just one album per artist in my little list of fave albums but say with someone like Waits I’ve just got to pick two albums. So following the already included late 70’s album Blue Valentine posted two years ago, comes the late 90’s epic comeback album Mule Variations. I guess his 80’s albums on Island records, that’s his record label called Island in mainly the 80’s years is his most popular records but these so much more faves for me personal. BTW It’s so far in my little CA list only one other artist who’s got two album under his name: Leonard  Cohen!

I think it’s very fitting they’re the only two artists because they seem major artists for in my life and it’s my own list. They’re Cohen and Waits like my The Beatles or something, yeah The Beatles have make my cut but only one album and everyone going to have to wait! I guess, some artists have already been including working under or in more than one act. They’re a few more artists who will get doubles to their name but that for another time, OK?

I’m telling you very little about Waits and this album, hey? What can I tell you now? Waits disappeared for almost all the 1990’s but what a bloody hell comeback! In any  comeback of all-time at least one I was around to see happen or witness myself, Tommy wins by far as the greatness! Before he drop this album out of nowhere his last was 1992’s Bone Machine album, soundtrack Night On Earth album and collaborative album for the theater show 1993’s The Black Rider. Then only popping up with a few just one song on various artist soundtracks, which I did buy pretty much all of them because I missed him so much. Signing to a new label for him called Anti records and then releasing this masterpiece!

Now the Aussie version did have a the had a couple of extra songs and was released and was put out a week or so after my birthday. Maybe another reason I love it a little more and made it more special. With 18 songs and just over 75 minutes I was like a crazed squirrel with a tree full of nuts but some do says it’s a bit long. Mule Variations was his twelfth studio album and minus four tracks all were co-written with his wife and songwriting partner since early 80’s Kathleen Brennan.

That’s it for my classic album today, enjoy!

Mule Variations track list and times:

1. Big In Japan – 4:05
2. Lowside Of The Road – 2:59
3. Hold On – 5:33
4. Get Behind The Mule – 6:52
5. House Where Nobody Lives – 4:14
6. Cold Water – 5:23
7. Pony – 4:32
8. What’s He Building? – 3:20
9. Black Market Baby – 5:02
10. Eyeball Kid – 4:25
11. Picture In A Frame – 3:39
12. Chocolate Jesus – 3:55
13. Georgia Lee – 4:24
14. Filipino Box Spring Hog – 3:09
15. Take It With Me – 4:24
16. Come On Up To The House – 4:36

Australian, New Zealandian and Japanese bonus tracks:
17. Buzz Fledder John – 4:14
18. Big Face Money


So this list below are my 113 favorite albums, so far because I’m still counting them up. Now Mule Variations by Tom Waits is the 114th album post!

Who else digs this Tom Waits album then? Or is it something else by him you like better?

Cheers 🙂




  1. I love this album in a way I love a select few other major albums. This is a top 50 of all time record for me. The only other Waits album I prefer is Rain Dogs because that’s the one that bowled me over first. But for richness and texture and songs with titles like Pilipino Box Spring Hog you’ve got to hand it to Mule Variations. If I had walk on music in my life I’d have Big In Japan from this album. “I got the moon, I got the cheese, I got the whole damned nation on its knees” – it’s a wonderful record

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a little bit surprised, though I admit that I am not familiar wtih Mule Variations. (I will listen to that this evening.) I still think Rain Dogs is one of the best, and most innovative, albums I’ve ever heard. How did that not make your list?

    BTW, have you seen the movie, Down By Law (also about the same time as Rain Dogs)? Great, funny movie from Jim Jarmusch.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, i do love all of Tommy’s albums, songs and even his movies are pretty great, seen most of them too! Yeah, yeah Down By Law is bloody wicked too! It was very, very, very hard just picking out the two Waits albums of his but maybe I will included yet other one from his 80’s/early 90’s Island records label years too at some stage later for my CA list? But Mule Variations does have a bit more of a special place for me so I just had to have it! You know it’s just my little list of faves so it’s most likely different for everyone? But you know, your now the second to say about how great Rain Dogs album is now here in my comment bit? Which I do totally agree too!
      Love to see some kind-of your own fave albums list posts or have you blog about that before sometime, somewhere and I’ve missed it?
      Cheers again 🙂


      1. Oh cool! You are? Great but really no rush at all! You could do one at a time and a little about each if you wanna take even more time? I wouldn’t mind even but whatever way you’ll like to that? I’ll love to see/hear what you dig the very most! I’m naming almost everything that I totally dig and love but just named the very top 20-25 is something I should do too, maybe after this Z-A order thingy I’m doing now, i could cut it down to my most faves of favorites?


  3. This was the 2nd Tom Waits I ever bought, although the first studio album. The other I had was Beautiful Maladies. I remember hearing Hang on St. Christopher on some compilation album that magazines used to sell with whatever monthly edition. I was intrigued, as it was different to much of what I had at the time.
    Mule Variations is my favourite of his, but I seriously need to sit down and listen intently, with lyrics, to his catalogue. I did like his triple album
    Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah, Mule Variations still rules and yeah, yeah Orphans is an under-rated gem! Please do or well sounds like a great idea listening to his back-catalogue too!
      Cheers 🙂


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