With his second album "Heart Of Saturday Night", released in 1974, Tom Waits earned himself a reputation as an accomplished and versatile songwriter. His bluesy and jazzy arrangements were mostly based on the use of bass, drums, saxophone and of course piano.
The producer Bones Howe, whom David Geffen, head of Asylum Records, had mediated, was decisively involved in the recordings. Howe had worked for artists as diverse as Elvis Presley, Ornette Coleman and Frank Sinatra throughout his career. Like Howe, the studio musicians also came from the wide realms between pop and jazz, which clearly led the production in the direction Waits wanted. However, this corresponded even less than the debut work "Closing Time" (1973) to the mainstream at that time. However, the "Rolling Stone" today leads the record in the list of the "500 best albums of all time" on place 339.
After the release of "Heart Of Saturday Night" Waits went on tour with Frank Zappa at the instigation of his manager Herb Cohen. Reluctantly. The reactions of the audience were moderate, but Waits had Zappa on his side, which earned him quite a reputation among colleagues.