Tom Waits is back in the media focus promoting his new album Orphans, he was interviewed by Mick Brown for The Word and as usual he has some great stories and observations. The one that struck the strongest chord was when he was asked about his ability to capture special moments in time that reasonate with meaning beyond the specific context.
... I think once you've experienced some of those moments you try to influence them. You're always waiting for them to happen, the way cats wait for things to move around the house; you sit quietly and wait, you know. You never know when the're going to happen and you to be ready. I think that's what people look for in songs. I write down song titles, usually, and usually something you 're going through emotionally will make a particular title leap out at you. This is what my wife says - there's something that you're already working on inside that this song will be the manifestation of. Now you have a container. The first thing that anyone ever created was a container. Someone made a bowl to hold the water. And then they made a song about the bowl that held the water. You know, people only travel really with their seeds and with their songs. In Bosnia they interviewed a lot of the refugees - they'd left with nothing and they asked them what they had, and they had seeds, in their pockets, from their gardens. And their songs. That was it. Once you're nourished in the most fundamental way, everything else will follow.
Ideally I would have liked to point you to the whole article but I guess you'll have to buy the magazine to read the rest of it.
If you'd like to read more interviews there's a list on the official site, unfortnately it looks as if it hasn't been updated for ages. Does anyone know of a more up-to-date collection?