As the decades passed, Waits' records and tours kept coming, along with the plays and the movie scores and the bit roles on the silver screen--even an opera. Judging by them, one might guess that Waits' grew up the son of carnival workers, hopping trains before he could shave, and spent years drifting in and out of low-rent bar districts over several continents, relying here and there on the kindness of strangers, until he was discovered, a young man bent and broken, playing in an old-time medicine show. But his life has been nothing so impossibly authentic. A studious, compassionate observer of street life, he's hardly set foot in it, really, except as a visitor. In essence, Waits came out of the San Diego suburbs in the 1960s and invented an act he took to Los Angeles, and he's been shaping it ever since, even as he professes to run from its earlier incarnations.