Tag Archives: Tom Waits

Coffee and Cigarettes

Coors

Paul Newman

This may sound absurd to anyone born after 1975, but there was actually a time when Coors – and I mean Coors, not the watered-down Silver Bullet stuff your girlfriend drank on spring break – was, bar none, beer of choice for the man’s man. Both Hud and the real-life Paul Newman loved the stuff. Tom Waits was known to knock back a few. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young swilled it while hanging out in Laurel Canyon (okay, so Nash was never quite a paragon of masculinity, but back in the day Stephen Stills was a country-blues-slinging demigod – look it up). And what did The Graduate’s Benjamin Braddock take to drinking while drifting in the pool after getting his first taste of red-hot American cougar? Coors.

—Tyler Thoreson, “Coors Original: An Appreciation” (2009)

Other famous Coors fans? Burt Reynolds, at least in Smokey and the Bandit, a movie whose McGuffin is smuggling a truckload of Coors from Texas to Georgia. Also, king-of-cool Steve McQueen, who not only loved the stuff so much he asked for it on his deathbed, but for whom the beer figured so prominently in his cosmology, a lover once described his penis as “two Coors beer cans welded together.” Then there’s singer-songwriter John Denver, baseball hall-of-famer Carl Yastrzemski, 38th President of the United States Gerald Ford, the late, great Ray Bradbury, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestial. Yes, even E.T.

Now, I realize that appealing to celebrity is a common fallacious appeal to authority, but maybe, just maybe, these (white, save for E.T.) guys knew something – at least when it comes to easy-drinking, pale, fizzy lagers in a can – the beer connoisseurs don’t.

Dean Martin

Dean Martin

Keith Richards

Keith Richards

Coors the company, it must be said, has, by some accounts, a pretty shady record, Ice Cube’s recent shilling for them notwithstanding. But that certainly doesn’t make them unique among corporations.1 Assuming products can stand on their own merit regardless of what company produced them, let it be said that I like their beer, not their (past) politics. Besides, I never pay for my Coors, I steal it.2


  1. All sorts of corporations do all sorts of shady things, and while that’s not good, it doesn’t, for the most part, stop us from giving our money to them. As Adrian Woolridge notes in Masters of Management, “Philip Morris is still one of the best-performing stocks in the world. A study by the Wharton Business School … found that ‘ethical’ funds underperform the general market by 31 points a year. A study by the European Union showed that while 75 percent of consumers said they were willing to adjust their shopping habits in light of ethical and environmental considerations, only 3 percent had actually done so.” In other words, people tend to like products from companies that are evil.  ↩
  2. Not really.

Music and Medicine

Dreams Taken Through a Straw

Tom Waits

Tom Waits in Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)

From Elizabeth Gilbert’s June 2002 GQ profile of Tom Waits:

‘Children make up the best songs, anyway,’ he says. ‘Better than grown-ups. Kids are always working on songs and throwing them away, like little origami things or paper airplanes. They don’t care if they lose it; they’ll just make another one.’ This openness is what every artist needs. Be ready to receive the inspiration when it comes; be ready to let it go when it vanishes. He believes that if a song ‘really wants to be written down, it’ll stick in my head. If it wasn’t interesting enough for me to remember it, well, it can just move along and go get in someone else’s song.’ ‘Some songs,’ he has learned, ‘don’t want to be recorded.’ You can’t wrestle with them or you’ll only scare them off more. Trying to capture them sometimes ‘is trying to trap birds.’ Fortunately, he says, other songs come easy, like ‘digging potatoes out of the ground.’ Others are sticky and weird, like ‘gum found under an old table.’ Clumsy and uncooperative songs may only be useful ‘to cut up as bait and use ’em to catch other songs.’ Of course, the best songs of all are those that enter you ‘like dreams taken through a straw.’ In those moments, all you can be, Waits says, is grateful.

(Article via Austin Kleon.)

Further listening: Radiolab’s “Help!”