Terry Gross: You said that when you stopped drinking, you wondered: Am I genuinely eccentric, or am I just wearing a funny hat? What am I made of? What's left when you drain the pool?... What did you learn about yourself when the alcohol wasn't there anymore?
Tom Waits: Well, I wanted - I've always wanted to be curious and provocative, I guess, and interesting, and interested in this sparkling sapphire we all call home. I always wanted to be mystified by it all - and rather fascinated with life itself. And... I think maybe when you drink, you're probably robbing yourself of that genuine experience, even though it appears what you're doing is getting more of it. You're getting less of it. And it takes a while, when you've had a rock on the hose like that for so long. It takes a while for the hose to be a hose again and for things to start flowing.
Like with songs, if you don't play for a while - if you stop playing for even like a year - sometimes it all builds up in a really great way. But there's no such thing as not playing. There's just - you know, music has rests in it, so you are on a rest right now. And the music will begin shortly.
- Tom Waits, in interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air. You can listen to the interview here, and read the full transcript here.