A week of songs: day one

OK, so thanks to the Facebook chain post doing the rounds, I’m doing that song-a-day-for-a-week thing where I post a song I like and write a bit about it. You should do it too, eh? (Seriously, if you like the post, go write your own, and tell me in the comments, as I’d like to read your picks.)

This is day one. Today’s song was probably the first Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds song I saw, thanks to Rage, the late night/early morning music video show here in Australia. Actually, the first I ever saw may be the fairy-lit cover of ‘In the Ghetto’ but this one stuck more in my memory. For my money it remains one of the strongest songs the band has done, even though lyrically it’s less leaning on Faulknerian gloom for inspiration and more wearing its skin as a jacket. Still, plenty of grim mud-sloshed words to go around, indicative of the whole And The Ass Saw The Angel thing, and some good Leadbelly vocal rips to go along with it.

Musically, it’s simple brilliance. Repetitive bass meets skittish drums that always remind me of the description of a drummer’s style, in the movie Angel Heart, as “like two jackrabbits fuckin'” – all tom work and menace, but it never overwhelms. The song ebbs and flows with lightning flashes of guitar colouring the whole fucking mess until there’s kicked-amp-reverb and organ chords retelling of Elvis’ birth and the apocalypse in some kind of interconnected, sodden extravaganza of doom, ultimately ending to the sounds of conquering thunder.

So of course, The Firstborn Is Dead was the first Bad Seeds album I bought. I think Henry’s Dream was the second, and then the rest. I thought they were excellently dark and literary and all those kind of things I aspired to be, despite my lack of a certain physique. I dug the fucked-up take on the blues that filled the album, a sort of spidery creeping thing. I didn’t understand it, but I liked it.

(The creeper vibe would deepen in a more velveteen way the more of the catalogue I explored, but I do enjoy that there’s something musically very GET TO THE POINT about a lot of the Bad Seeds’ music.)

Now, I’m a bit more circumspect about the band and there’s a bunch of their work I’m not a huge fan of. But if I’m to listen to something by them, this is likely what I’ll put on for the primal fuck-youness of it all, unencumbered by the millstone of being an elder statesman of dark rock or whatever the hell it is NC is lauded as these days.

So yeah. Day one’s song is ‘Tupelo’ by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds because every time I listen to it I get a little bit of the thrill of when I first heard it.

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