Kazuo Ishiguro won the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature, a coup for writers everywhere since last year the Nobel Committee decided to give the prize to Bob Dylan. Dylan has written plenty, but he’s a musician by trade, not a writer — and the controversial honor presumably pissed off Philip Roth and other lonely word laborers with ink-stained hands. Ishiguro, however, has acknowledged the close links between popular music and the literary arts, going so far as to say how much a single Tom Waits song helped him in composing a critical detail about his most famous character, the butler Stevens in The Remains of the Day.
Ishiguro wrote in 2014 that while completing The Remains of the Day he heard Waits singing “Ruby’s Arms” (video below) and the song was a major influence on how long Stevens would repress his emotions in the book — the key to the tension the novel traffics in. Ishiguro describes “a moment…that’s almost unbearably moving because of the tension between the sentiment itself and the huge resistance that’s obviously been overcome…” Here’s Waits singing the song that helped Ishiguro win the Nobel Prize.