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Bone Machine

Bone Machine
Studio album by Tom Waits
Released September 8, 1992
Recorded Prairie Sun Recording, Cotati, California
Genre Experimental rock, blues rock, industrial rock, folk rock
Length 53:30
Label Island
Producer Tom Waits
Tom Waits chronology
Night on Earth
Bone Machine
The Black Rider
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [1]
Fast Folk (favorable)[2]
Rolling Stone link

Bone Machine is a critically acclaimed and award-winning 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 and Brain, 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 Media where it was number 49,[3] and Rolling Stone where it was number 53.[4]


  • Recording and production 1
  • Artwork 2
  • Covers and soundtracks 3
  • Chart information 4
  • Track listing 5
  • Credits 6
  • Footnotes 7
  • References 8

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.[5]

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."[6] 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.[7] 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. "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,[8] Gomez, Widespread Panic, Gov't Mule, and Australian blues guitarist Ash Grunwald. "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" was covered by Ramones for their final studio album ¡Adios_Amigos!, by Holly Cole on her album of Tom Waits covers Temptation (1995), 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 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 debut album.

Chart information

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

Track listing

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

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Earth Died Screaming"   Waits 3:39
2. "Dirt in the Ground"     4:08
3. "Such a Scream"   Waits 2:07
4. "All Stripped Down"   Waits 3:04
5. "Who Are You"     3:58
6. "The Ocean Doesn't Want Me"   Waits 1:51
7. "Jesus Gonna Be Here"   Waits 3:21
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)"   Waits 4:36
14. "I Don't Wanna Grow Up"     2:31
15. "Let Me Get Up on It" (Instrumental) Waits 0:55
16. "That Feel"   Waits, Keith Richards 3:11


  • 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 Sax (2,3), Tenor Sax (2,3), Bass Clarinet (2)
  • Les Claypool - Electric Bass (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. ^ Bone Machine, Allmusic
  2. ^ Allen, Jim, "The Ten Best Albums of 1992", Fast Folk Musical Magazine, 6:9-10, (February 1993) pp. 12-13
  3. ^ "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". Retrieved 2012-03-25. 
  4. ^ "100 Best Albums of the Nineties". Retrieved 2012-03-25. 
  5. ^ McDermid, Charles. "Dream Maker:Prairie Sun Recording Studio chief Mark "Mooka" Rennick is a musician's best friend". MetroActive Music. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  6. ^ Interview with Brian Bannon for Thrasher magazine, February 1993; collected in Innocent When You Dream p.146
  7. ^ "Bone Machine album credits". Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  8. ^ "QOTSA Cover Tom Waits, Elliott Smith on "Sick" Single". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 


  • Montandon, Mac (2005). Innocent When You Dream: Tom Waits the Collected Interviews. Thunder's Mouth Press.  
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