I love instances when two great artists from different disciplines come together, and this photo shoot of Tom Waits conducted by Robert Frank is a perfect example. Frank was shooting Waits for his upcoming album, Rain Dogs,which contains one of my favorite songs of all time, “Downtown Train.” It’s so evocative of everything romantic I’ve associated with New York City since I was 20 or 21, and, in a way, this photo only adds to that feeling. In the text that appeared alongside it in the Sunday Times Magazine, Waits recounts the experience of posing for Frank:
I was trying to imagine myself as a real New Yorker, and I was having a hard time. My wife was pregnant with our second child; we were living down on 14th Street over a Cuban-Chinese restaurant. But at that moment, I was busting at the seams that Robert Frank was photographing me. I just thought, Shoot me now. The record was called Rain Dogs, so we were expecting to find a rainy day, which we did not find. But we found the one rain puddle in the whole park, and Iâ€™m kind of down there like a dog. Maybe that was the idea: Iâ€™m gonna get down on the dogâ€™s level, and then Robert would get there at a dogâ€™s level with me. Anyway, I donâ€™t know why people in music seem to want to squat down. Maybe we just want to feel close to the earth. Iâ€™m still down there, actually. Iâ€™m squatting right now.
What They Were Thinking – Tom Waits and Robert Frank (New York Times)