Tom Waits pays touching tribute to “wry and soulful” Hal Willner

The much loved music and television producer passed away last week

Tom Waits and his wife Kathleen have paid a touching tribute to Hal Willner, who died last week at the age of 64.

The music and television producer is said to have passed away after suffering complications related to the coronavirus, as reported by Variety on April 7.

Tributes to the producer, who helmed albums by the likes of Lou Reed and Marianne Faithfull, have poured in since the news of his passing, including from the likes of Courtney Love, Flea, Cat Power, Adam McKay and many more.

Tom Waits has now penned a touching tribute with the help of his wife, where he calls Willner “Wise and reckless. Lamb and black sheep,” and “Lover of the afflicted and the blessed.”

“Hal. Dear Hal. Brother. Uncle. Father. Son. Husband. Godfather. Friend,” the Waits’ post began. “Wise and reckless. Lamb and black sheep. Lover of the afflicted and the blessed. More than kin and more than kind, more than friend and more than fiendish in his daunting and devoted pursuit of the lost and the buried, long may his coattails run and long may we now ride, and those that follow us continue to ride upon them.

Tom and Kathleen remember Hal Willner.Hal. Dear Hal. Brother. Uncle. Father. Son. Husband. Godfather. Friend. Wise and…

Posted by Tom Waits on Wednesday, April 15, 2020

“Hal was the wry and soulful and mysterious historical rememberer. He specialized in staging strange musical bedfellows like Betty Carter and the Replacements or The Residents backing up Conway Twitty. Oh, the wild seeds of Impresario Hal. He was drawn equally to the danger of a fiasco and the magical power of illumination that his legendary productions held.”

Remembering some of the weird and wonderful things that Willner owned, the Waits’ post continued: “Many years ago he bought Jimmy Durante’s piano along with Bela Lugosi’s wristwatch and a headscarf worn by Karen Carpenter. Some say he also owned Sarah Bernhardt’s wooden leg. He had a variety of hand and string puppets, dummies, busts of Laurel and Hardy, duck whistles and scary Jerry Mahoney dolls and a free ranging collection of vinyl and rare books. These were his talismans and his vestments because his heart was a reliquary.”

“If you took a cross section of Hal’s heart… you would see the rings of a wise old tree,” the post concluded. “Above all, let’s remember that Hal loved music… and from all appearances it seems very much to have loved him right back big time. We share our love and sympathy, as do our children, with his wife Sheila and his son Arlo and Hal’s extended family and all the many friends and colluders who loved him.”

Back in December 2019, Tom Waits wrote a poem about The Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards for his birthday.

In his poem, Waits lists off the qualities he admires in the Stones guitarist: “He wrote his share of the songs from Sticky Fingers/ In a henhouse in Malta/ He once won the Hope Diamond in a poker game/ And in the same night lost it in a game of craps/ He owns a lug wrench and a tire jack made of solid gold.

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