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Tom Waits: The Whiskey Voice Returns

Over the years, the once hard-living singer-songwriter Tom Waits has given up whiskey for family life and for a productive songwriting partnership with his wife, Kathleen Brennan.

But the flavor of the whiskey is still in Waits' voice, and his song lyrics still invoke the poets of the Beat Generation.

Waits, who turns 57 in December, has released a new, three-CD set called Orphans.

It features songs both old and new, originals and covers (although most of the songs are by Waits and Brennan).

Known since the 1970s for his distinctive, gravelly voice, Waits in recent years also has written music for movie soundtracks.

He talks about the process of writing songs for film, the music on his new CD, and his ability to sing with the desires of a "crooner or a clown."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Robert Siegel
Prior to his retirement, Robert Siegel was the senior host of NPR's award-winning evening newsmagazine All Things Considered. With 40 years of experience working in radio news, Siegel hosted the country's most-listened-to, afternoon-drive-time news radio program and reported on stories and happenings all over the globe, and reported from a variety of locations across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. He signed off in his final broadcast of All Things Considered on January 5, 2018.