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Tom Waits driven to anger

NEW YORK (AP) — Tom Waits’ next boozy, bluesy tune might be about European car manufacturers. The gravel-voiced Waits says Opel, a European division of General Motors, is running a TV commercial in Scandinavia with a soundtrack resembling his style and sound. And he’s not happy about it. “Commercials are an unnatural use of my work,” the 55-year-old singer said in a statement. “It’s like having a cow’s udder sewn to the side of my face. Painful and humiliating.” Waits said he’s never allowed his voice or music to be used in commercials “and I have lawyers over there investigating my options.” Opel denies any intention to mimic Waits. The carmaker said the music in the ad is a Brahms composition with a Frankfurt, Germany-based singer giving a “rough voice interpretation for the ‘Wiegenlied’ theme in English.” The company said Steven Tyler of Aerosmith was the only celebrity approached for the ad. “We actually are surprised about the fact that Tom Waits considers the music … a potential misuse of his voice and style of singing,” Opel said in a statement Thursday. “We have been assured by our agency partners that Tom Waits has not been approached at any time within this project.” In 1992, Waits was awarded $2.5 million in damages from Frito-Lay after successfully arguing that another singer was hired to imitate his voice for a Doritos corn chip commercial. In the early ’90s, he filed several lawsuits against his previous record label, Third Story Music. He alleged, among other things, that Third Story reneged on a contract by allowing two of his songs to used in TV commercials overseas.