In 1981, when he was 15, David Frazer and his mate Garry went to a Tom Waits concert at Melbourne’s Dallas Brooks Hall. A teacher had introduced them to the music of Waits, whose voice has been described as everything from a swallowed angry cat, to crunching broken glass, to sounding like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon (then smoked, then run over by a car).
The concert had an epic effect – Waits’ lyrical story-telling had “a rural feeling of melancholy and alienation” that resonated with Frazer, whose childhood was spent in the Wimmera. But his admiration for Waits transcended the aural: Frazer was intrigued by the imagery the music produced.
Decades after that concert, Frazer has been granted permission to create an artist-book transforming Waits’ music into pictures. The timing is great: the Castlemaine artist is about to launch his latest book, Love Letter, on the song by Nick Cave. The book has the musician’s blessings – Frazer says Cave was thrilled with the results – and its limited edition copies bear his signature.