Tom Waits: "A Day in Vienna", Austrian TV documentary

A Day in Vienna is a 1978 (or maybe 1979) 30-minute TV documentary shot for Austrian TV during the tour for his (magnificent) album Blue Valentine. In addition to spectacular concert footage, the video also features Waits slow-dancing with a "Thai prostitute" at a bar in Vienna called the Moulin Rouge.

The concert in the footage was at the Konzerthaus, specifically the Mozartsaal, which seats 704. The European tour was in support of 1978’s Blue Valentine, and in the footage Waits plays “A Sweet Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun” and “Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis” off of that album. We get three songs from Waits’ 1976 album Small Change (“Jitterbug Boy,” “Pasties and a G-String (At the Two O’Clock Club),” and “I Can’t Wait to Get Off Work (And See My Baby on Montgomery Avenue)”). Waits’ rendition of “Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis” folds in a few bars of “Goin’ Out of My Head” when he gets to the Little Anthony and the Imperials line and ends with “Silent Night”—this was his usual practice in the late 1970s.

At the end of the video Waits does a slow dance with what Hoskyns calls “a Thai prostitute” in a joint called the Moulin Rouge on Walfischgasse in the city’s 1st district. The Moulin Rouge is still there, but that area is completely different today. Walfischgasse intersects with Kärntner Strasse, which is kind of like Times Square/42nd Street in more ways than one. In the 1970s it was a red-light district, but today it is one of the most commercialized avenues in Vienna. I love the footage in the middle where Waits tells the story of the saxophonist who can’t manage the bridge to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”—few things are more “Vienna” than a little table crowded with beer glasses and stately little cups of coffee.

Tom Waits: ‘A Day in Vienna,’ terrific, little-known late 70s TV documentary [Martin Schneider/Dangerous Minds]

(via Kadrey)

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  1. At about 17:30, when he starts pacing, there's kind of this thing, where at first I wondered if he was seriously that disturbed, or just mugging. Then I noticed, for all his activity, the camera operator was doing an admirable job of keeping up without seeming to try to keep up. Which was about the time Tom started deliberately fucking with the camera operator. Genius.

  2. Not sure, but I think the gas station at the beginning is the same they used in the episode 'Nachttankstelle' of 'Kottan ermittelt'. The year would fit (1978), and it's just the sort of thing the guys at ORF would do at the time.

    Anyway, I liked the little bit of 'When the Saints...' backstage.
    I first got aware of Waits when he was in 'Down By Law' and it's been an on-and-off, love-hate thing ever since. Sometimes I think he came through a time warp from the depression era. But the again, he is probably someone who'd never fit in, no matter where or when. Which is the thing I like best about him.

    And since it's safe to assume that only very few of the happy bbs mutants know about Kottan, here are two links to enlighten you:

  3. IMB says:

    I don't understand the hate part.

  4. IMB says:

    The video is from the 70's, you realize?

  5. Which is funny, because he acts less grizzled today, when he's reached an age that far better befits the engrizzlement visible in the documentary.

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