Kathleen Brennan

Kathleen Patricia Brennan (born March 2, 1955) is an American musician, songwriter, record producer, and artist. She is married to Tom Waits and has been his main song-writing collaborator and producer since 1992.

Kathleen Brennan
Kathleen Patricia Brennan

(1955-03-02) March 2, 1955 (age 67)
(m. 1980)


Brennan was born in Cork, Ireland, though the family moved to Johnsburg, Illinois when she was young, and that's where she grew up.[1] Brennan and Waits met in 1979 when Waits made his acting debut in Paradise Alley,[2] and then again during the filming of the Francis Ford Coppola film One from the Heart in 1980. Waits was composing the original soundtrack for the film, while Brennan worked at the film's studio, American Zoetrope, as a script analyst. They got married in 1980.[3] Waits has described Brennan as "a remarkable collaborator... She's bold, inventive and fearless. That's who you wanna go in the woods with, right? Somebody who finishes your sentences for you.[4]

Brennan's first co-writing credit appears on Rain Dogs in 1985 for "Hang Down Your Head", and by 1992 she was his main producer and constant song-writing partner; her record collection introduced him to the music of Captain Beefheart.[5] She is generally regarded as the catalyst for Waits's more experimental sound beginning with the album Swordfishtrombones.[6] Waits has said: "She doesn't like the limelight, but she's an incandescent presence on all songs we work on together."[7] Brennan and Waits live in northern California with their three children.[8]


  1. ^ Patrick Humphries (December 17, 2009). The Many Lives of Tom Waits. Omnibus Press. p. 199. ISBN 9780857121257.
  2. ^ O'Hagan, Interview by Sean (October 28, 2006). "Off beat". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved August 11, 2017.
  3. ^ Sean O'Hagan (October 29, 2006). "Off beat". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Tom Waits Library - Biography - Quotes Archived August 13, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Sylvie Simmons (September 2004). "The Mojo Interview: Tom Waits Speaks". Mojo Magazine.
  6. ^ Robert Christgau (July 9, 2002). "Robert Christgau: Effective but Defective: Tom Waits". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
  7. ^ Rip Rense (January 1999). "A Q&A About Mule Variations". www.msopr.com. Mitch Schneider Organisation.
  8. ^ "Tom Waits". nndb.com. 2012. Retrieved March 28, 2013.