“Whenever I hear ‘Heartattack And Vine,’ the bruising title track of one of Tom Waits‘ best albums, it reminds me of arriving in Los Angeles for the first time thirty years ago. The sheer force of the track never fails to pummel me in the chest. It’s as if Howlin’ Wolf were prowling the backstreets of Hollywood Babylon and figuring, ‘Fuck, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.’
I suppose it helps that ‘Heartattack And Vine’ — in one of its most caustic lines — references Cahuenga Boulevard, since it was on said street that I found the Hollywood motel I rashly opted to stay in on my arrival that night. If memory serves, it was a matter of minutes before I was befriended by a crew of feral street creatures who sold me some mind-shredding grass and then vanished into the night with all my traveler’s checks.
In a sense it was precisely what I’d come to Los Angeles to find: not the surface glitter and phony glamour, but the noir undertow, the menace lurking behind the palm-tree facade. I wanted to examine LA — as a symbol, as a metaphor, but also as a living breathing place — through the music made in it and about it: to trace the line that connected Brian Wilson to Black Flag to Axl Rose. (What is the line? Why, failed singer-songwriter Charlie Manson, of course.)”
—Barney Hoskyns, Preface to Waiting For The Sun: A Rock ‘n’ Roll History of Los Angeles, 2009