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Franks Wild Years is an album by Tom Waits, released 1987 on Island Records. Subtitled "Un Operachi Romantico in Two Acts", the album contains songs written by Waits and collaborators (mainly his wife, Kathleen Brennan) for a play of the same name. The shared title of the album and the play is an iteration of "Frank's Wild Years", a song from Waits' 1983 album Swordfishtrombones.

The play had its world premiere in Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker on June 22, 1986, performed by the Steppenwolf Theatre Companymarker at the Briar St. Theatre.

Various versions of the track "Way Down in the Hole" have served as the theme music for the HBO series The Wire, including Waits' original version for the second season.

Chart information

Chart Peak position
Switzerlandmarker 14

Track listing

Tracks written by Tom Waits, except where noted. Recorded by Danny Leake and Biff Dawes. Mixed by Biff Dawes at Sunset Sound, Hollywood, CA.

Side One

Side Two


  • Jay Anderson - bass
  • Michael Blair - drums, conga, percussion, maracas, marimba, orchestra bells, glockenspiel
  • Kathleen Brennan - vocal arrangements
  • Angela Brown - background vocals
  • Ralph Carney - sax, baritone horn, violin, tenor sax
  • Greg Cohen- bass, alto horn, horn arrangements, Leslie bass pedals
  • David Hidalgo - accordion
  • Leslie Holland - background vocals
  • Lynne Jordan - background vocals
  • Marc Ribot - guitar, banjo
  • William Schimmel - piano, pump organ, accordion, Leslie bass pedals, cocktail piano
  • Larry Taylor - bass, upright bass
  • Moris Tepper - guitar
  • Francis Thumm - prepared piano, pump organ
  • Tom Waits - vocals, pump organ, Optigan, guitar, vocal stylings, rooster, piano, Farfisa, Mellotron, drums, conga, tambourine


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