Tom Wait’s Wrote A Poem For Keith Richards’ 80th Birthday
Keith Richards for Noisey - Noisey / YouTube
The legendary Tom Waits has crafted a poetic tribute to celebrate the 80th birthday of iconic Rolling Stones guitarist, Keith Richards. Waits’ poem, titled “Burnt Toast to Keith,” is set to grace the pages of the January 2024 issue of the U.K. magazine Uncut, offering a whimsical and surreal nod to Richards’ musical prowess.
Waits kicks off the poem by stating,
“When I think about Keith, I am reminded that the best songs come from the gutter,” setting the tone for a unique and heartfelt homage. He humorously delves into the creative process, likening it to fishing in the metaphorical gutter, pondering the bait needed to lure in great songs.
“Keith can grit his teeth and he can voice chord with his upper lip,” Waits continues, capturing the essence of Richards’ distinctive guitar style. As the night unfolds, he muses that “Keith sounds like an orchestra tuning up,” emphasizing the eclectic and vibrant nature of Richards’ musicality.
In the concluding lines, Waits sends birthday wishes to Keith, playfully urging him to continue twirling, splashing, and making magic with his guitar.
The poem paints a vivid picture of a musical journey marked by creativity, spontaneity, and the enduring spirit of rock ‘n’ roll.
Richards and Waits share a history of collaboration, with Richards contributing to several tracks on Waits’ albums, including Rain Dogs (1985), Bone Machine (1992), and Bad as Me (2011). Their creative synergy extends to the co-written song “That Feel,” featured on Bone Machine.
As Keith Richards turns 80, Uncut magazine’s January 2024 issue features him on the cover, accompanied by stories and tributes from fellow music legends such as Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood, Jimmy Page, Johnny Marr, and more.
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In addition to Waits’ poetic tribute, fellow artists took to social media to extend their birthday wishes to Richards.
Sheryl Crow expressed her well-wishes and celebrated the 40th anniversary of Richards and his wife, Patti Hansen. Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash kept it simple, sending a straightforward “Happy Birthday #KeithRichards.”
Waits’ complete poem, “Burnt Toast to Keith,” provides an insightful and whimsical glimpse into the world of Keith Richards as he reaches this milestone age, reminding us all of the enduring magic of rock’s timeless figures.
As Keith Richards prepares for The Rolling Stones’ 2024 tour in North America, fans can anticipate a continuation of the legendary guitarist’s musical journey, filled with timeless classics and the indomitable spirit of rock.
FULL POEM BELOW:
“Burnt Toast to Keith”
When I think about Keith, I am reminded that
the best songs come from the gutter…but it is a
hell of a place to fish when you have to sit on the curb
What do you use for bait? a piece of red cloth will do or a candy wrapper
Good songs jump right on your hook and the hook
is in the song for good…Keith can grit his teeth and he
can voice chord with his upper lip /// and when the night is winding
down…Keith sounds like an orchestra tuning up…
a blue schemer, in a wavy glass mirror, like partially
melted chords left out in the sun too long…and if you
listen to the chords that fall out of Keiths coat…it is
like broadway out of focus…an electric powder blue
fog bank with 100s of tunes inside, crying…They are
like fish just dying to get down in the pan and start frying.
Feathers, finger nails scabs and scars /// some songs are
written on the way to the studio in rented cars /// never confuse
the amount of time it takes with the depth of the duende eh ?
Keep the tape rolling Keith thinks, I am sitting on a BIG EGG and
it needs another minute or so before I can blow my top.
Keith…long may you twirl, Splash, curl, slash, take a blue marble
and turn it into a 49 Mercury saw the girl in half and make
the elephant disappear…
Happy Birthday KEITH the big 80 is here, slap it in the face
and wake it up… Love, T O M W