Bone Machine
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Bone Machine
Bone Machine
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 8, 1992
RecordedPrairie Sun Recording, Cotati, California
GenreRock, experimental
ProducerTom Waits; Associate producer: Kathleen Brennan
Tom Waits chronology
Night on Earth
Bone Machine
The Black Rider

Bone Machine is the tenth studio album by Tom Waits, released in 1992 on Island Records. It won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album, and features guest appearances by Los Lobos' David Hidalgo, Primus' Les Claypool, Praxis' Bryan Mantia, and The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards.

Bone Machine marked a return to studio material for Waits, coming a full five years after his previous studio album, Franks Wild Years (1987). The album is often noted for its dark lyrical themes of death and murder, and for its rough, stripped-down, percussion-heavy blues rock style.

Bone Machine was included on many Best Albums of the 1990s lists, including Pitchfork where it was number 49,[11] and Rolling Stone where it was number 53.[12]

Recording and production

Bone Machine was recorded and produced entirely at the Prairie Sun Recording studios in Cotati, California in a room of Studio C known as "the Waits Room," in the old cement hatchery rooms of the cellar of the buildings.

Mark "Mooka" Rennick, Prairie Sun studio chief said:

[Waits] gravitated toward these "echo" rooms and created the Bone Machine aural landscape. [...] What we like about Tom is that he is a musicologist. And he has a tremendous ear. His talent is a national treasure.[13]

Waits said of the bare-bones studio, "I found a great room to work in, it's just a cement floor and a hot water heater. Okay, we'll do it here. It's got some good echo."[14] References to the recording environment and process were made in the field-recorded interview segments made for the promotional CD release, Bone Machine: The Operator's Manual, which threaded together full studio tracks and conversation for a pre-recorded radio show format.


The cover photo, which consists of a blurred black-and-white, close-up image of Waits in a leather skullcap with horns and protective goggles, was taken by Jesse Dylan, the son of Bob Dylan.[15] He wears this same outfit in the video for "Goin' Out West" and "I Don't Wanna Grow up".

Covers and soundtracks

A number of the songs from Bone Machine have been used in a number of film soundtracks, and have been covered by artists in varying genres.

"Earth Died Screaming" is featured in the 1995 film 12 Monkeys.

"Dirt in the Ground" was featured on the 1998 movie, "Jerry and Tom." "Jesus Gonna Be Here" is featured in the 2005 film Domino, in which Waits appears, and has been covered by the gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama on their album "Spirit of the Century" (2001).

"Goin' Out West" is featured in the 1999 film Fight Club and has been covered by Queens of the Stone Age,[16]Gomez, Widespread Panic, Gov't Mule, Jimmy Barnes, and Australian blues guitarist Ash Grunwald.

"I Don't Wanna Grow Up" was covered by Ramones for their final studio album ¡Adios Amigos!, and was used during the end credits of Netflix's Big Mouth Season 1 first episode.

Also covered by Petra Haden and Bill Frisell on their collaboration Petra Haden & Bill Frisell (2003), by Hayes Carll on his Trouble in Mind (2008), by Scarlett Johansson on her debut album, Anywhere I Lay My Head (2008), by Squeeze on the deluxe version of their album Cradle To The Grave, and by Emily Kinney's character, Beth Greene, on The Walking Dead fourth-season episode, "Infected" (Kinney's musical influences also includes Waits among others).

Danish band Kellermensch covered "Dirt in the Ground" on their 2009 debut album.

Joan Baez's 2018 release used Whistle Down The Wind as its title track. Her recording also includes an additional Waits cover, "Last Leaf", from his Bad As Me (2011) release.

Chart information

Chart Peak position
Switzerland 21
The Billboard 200 (1992) 176


The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[17]

Track listing

Songs written by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, except where noted.

1."Earth Died Screaming"Waits3:39
2."Dirt in the Ground" 4:08
3."Such a Scream"Waits2:07
4."All Stripped Down"Waits3:04
5."Who Are You" 3:58
6."The Ocean Doesn't Want Me"Waits1:51
7."Jesus Gonna Be Here"Waits3:21
8."A Little Rain (for Clyde)" 2:58
9."In the Colosseum" 4:50
10."Goin' Out West" 3:19
11."Murder in the Red Barn" 4:29
12."Black Wings" 4:37
13."Whistle Down the Wind (for Tom Jans)"Waits4:36
14."I Don't Wanna Grow Up" 2:31
15."Let Me Get Up on It"Waits0:55
16."That Feel"Waits, Keith Richards3:11


  • Tom Waits - vocals (all songs), Chamberlin (1,6,9), percussion (1,3-6,15), guitar (1,3,5,12,14,16), sticks (1), piano (2,13), upright bass (7), conundrum (9), drums (10-12,16), acoustic guitar (14)
  • Brain - drums (3,9)
  • Kathleen Brennan - sticks (1)
  • Ralph Carney - alto saxophone (2,3), tenor saxophone (2,3), bass clarinet (2)
  • Les Claypool - bass guitar (1)
  • Joe Gore - guitar (4,10,12)
  • David Hidalgo - violin (13), accordion (13)
  • Joe Marquez - sticks (1), banjo (11)
  • David Phillips - pedal steel guitar (8,13), steel guitar (16)
  • Keith Richards - guitar (16), vocal (16)
  • Larry Taylor - upright bass (1,2,4,5,8-12,14,16), guitar (7)
  • Waddy Wachtel - guitar (16)

Produced by Tom Waits. Associate Producer: Kathleen Brennan

Recorded by Biff Dawes, except " Whistle Down the Wind" and "A Little Rain" recorded by Joe Marquez. Mixed by Tchad Blake, Biff Dawes, and Joe Marquez. "That Feel" mixed by Joe Blaney at Studio 900. 2nd Engineer: Joe Marquez, 3rd Engineer: Shawn Michael Morris

Musical Security Guard: Frances Thumm. Mastered by Bob Ludwig at Masterdisk


  1. ^ Huey, Steve. "Bone Machine - Tom Waits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015.
  2. ^ Kot, Greg (September 17, 1992). "Tom Waits: Bone Machine (Island)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2015.
  3. ^ Altman, Billy (September 25, 1992). "Bone Machine". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2015.
  4. ^ Willman, Chris (September 20, 1992). "Tom Waits: 'Bone Machine' (Island)". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ "Tom Waits: Bone Machine". Mojo (200): 77. July 2010.
  6. ^ "Tom Waits: Bone Machine". Q (73): 100. October 1992.
  7. ^ O'Connor, Rob (October 29, 1992). "Bone Machine". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2015.
  8. ^ Coleman, Mark; Scoppa, Bud; Weingarten, Christopher R. (April 11, 2010). "Tom Waits: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 17, 2013. Retrieved 2015.
  9. ^ Collis, Andrew (October 1992). "Tom Waits: Bone Machine". Select (28): 84.
  10. ^ "What Is He Building In There..?". Uncut (175): 52-53. December 2011.
  11. ^ "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". Retrieved .
  12. ^ "100 Best Albums of the Nineties". Retrieved .
  13. ^ McDermid, Charles. "Dream Maker:Prairie Sun Recording Studio chief Mark "Mooka" Rennick is a musician's best friend". MetroActive Music. Retrieved .
  14. ^ Interview with Brian Bannon for Thrasher magazine, February 1993; collected in Innocent When You Dream p.146
  15. ^ "Bone Machine album credits". Retrieved .
  16. ^ "QOTSA Cover Tom Waits, Elliott Smith on "Sick" Single". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 2008-01-09. Retrieved .
  17. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.


  • Montandon, Mac (2005). Innocent When You Dream: Tom Waits the Collected Interviews. Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 0-7528-7394-6.

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