Stick it up your Orpheus

Firstly, apologies. Downtime is a bad thing, but one must soldier on telling the truth, hence today's USB pen/work computer-tastic post. Anyway.
You know who’s great? Nick Cave is great. I’ve decided that I heartily recommend buying some Nick Cave albums and even if you don’t listen to them all straight away, you’ll get a hankering and you’ll get the opportunity to go back and listen to them whenever you like. Take his last album proper. I’ve listened to both discs plenty of times, but just recently The Lyre Of Orpheus has grabbed me. It’s a beautiful set, featuring some of Cave’s most melodic, straightforwardly joyous songs. I was going to say that even in Breathless, maybe his chirpiest, least violent love song to date, there’s the line “steal your hands, steal your soul”, but looking at the liner notes, apparently it’s “still your hands, and still your soul,” which while being less immediately fascinating, emphasises my point that this is not an angry song.

In fact, I’m going to post two tracks from this CD, of which at least one may be one of the loveliest songs I’ve posted on here, the aforementioned Breathless. Not, as you might think, a Corrs cover (great though that would certainly be), it sees Nick Cave – the same Nick Cave that used to write lyrics with a syringe pulled from his arm, that writes whole albums about the correlations between love and death, that closed his previous album with a hyper-tense fifteen minute rant featuring some of the best rhyming couplets ever committed to tape – it sees Nick Cave singing “little white clouds like gambolling lambs,” and “the happy hooded bluebells bow, and bend their heads all a-down.”

Now, I think it would be some career shift if these were, as they sound, sung in a Steeleye Span-esque, chunky-jumpered English folk sound, but you see the point I’m trying to make. He’s a tricky one to second guess though, is our Nick Cave – is he all loved up, for we know this leads to much suckingness? I’m guessing that even if he is, he’s not letting it go to his head – does it suck to open a disc with a gospel-tinged, bouzouki-featuring appraisal of the role of Orpheus and Eurydice in Greek mythology? I think not. Or to feature on the same album a track named ‘Cannibal’s Hymn’, or to namecheck Nabokov, Willmot, St John, Marx, Guagin, Philip Larkin, Dylan Thomas and Johnny Thunders in the same song elsewhere?

This album has a number of undeniably bucolic, even pastoral tendencies, but at the same time its unmistakeably Cave. Maybe you have to dig a bit deeper in the lyrics to find it, but listen to the music and you’re left in no doubt.

Final words: how can a band with both Mick Harvey and Warren Ellis in not be amazing?

Nick Cave – Breathless
Nick Cave – The Lyre Of Orpheus
Nick Cave/Bad Seeds/buy


coxon le woof said...

Never a truer word said.

Though of the 2, I'd probably pick 'abbatoir Blues' over 'Lyre Of Orpheus'.

Nick Cave=genius.

And Warren Ellis plays like a man possessed. And with his crazy beard, he also looks a bit like a man possessed.

Oh Simone said...

The Abbatoir Blues vs Lyre Of Orpheus thing is definitely an unresoved debate. It's a mood-dependent decision, I suppose.

kitten said...

No, Lyre of Orpheous is better.

It's easy look :P