Watch Nick Cave Try To Carry Leonard Cohen’s Torch

Over the years gothic darkness has been one of Rock’s favorite flavors. Sure, it’s always great to uplift spirits, but every yin needs its yang, and life isn’t always sunshine and lollipops at Disneyland. Untold numbers of punk and metal acts have donned the spiky mantle of goth, but very few have done it longer or even more successfully than Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. From grinding, sneering punk to woozy, bluesy streams of consciousness, Nick Cave’s been delivering downers out of left field for more than 33 years. He has been called Rock’s “Prince of Darkness” which I suppose is high praise indeed.

Cave is a great lyricist and songwriter, and a distinctly unusual singer and performer. Not too many can make a leisure suit more menacing than he. His performances are theatrical and can be hilarious, bizarre or mesmerizing. Surely Father John Misty studied a lot of Cave performances because he uses a lot of the same schtick.

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Well judge for yourself. Cave and the Seeds performed on Colbert the other night and I loved it. File this one under the mesmerizing category. With his six-piece band settling into a subtle slow-jam groove, Cave starts delivering something that falls somewhere between spoken beat poetry and old white man rap. Then the intensity gently builds up and he lets loose his croon, and it’s quite an effect.

Nick Cave has never been shy to admit that his greatest influence was Leonard Cohen, which becomes obvious when you listen to him. Leonard had quite the dark streak himself but he had a lighter side too, and I don’t believe anybody ever called him goth. In any case Cave’s lyrics here are pretty interesting and I daresay somewhat Cohenesque:

Her body, moon blue, was a jellyfish
And I’m breathing deep and I’m there and I’m also not there
And spurting ink over the sheets but she remains, completely unexplained
Or maybe I’m just too tongue-tied to drink it up and swallow back the pain
I thought slavery had been abolished
How come it’s gone and reared its ugly head again?…

And now she’s jumping up with her leaping brain
Stepping over heaps of sleeping children
Disappearing and further up and spinning out again
Up and further up she goes, up and out of the bed
Up and out of the bed and down the hall
Where she stops for moment and turns and says
“Are you still here?”
And then reaches high and dangles herself
Like a child’s dream from the rings of Saturn

Now that’s some serious songwriting. And maybe, just maybe, it allows you to see see a tiny crack in the darkness where the light shines through.





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