Music As Reading: Mixtape VIII, Nick The Stripper As Reader
Karl Marx squeezed his carbuncles while writing Das Kapital;
And Gaugin, he buggered off, man, and went all tropical;
While Philip Larkin stuck it out in a library in Hull;
And Dylan Thomas died drunk in St. Vincent's hospital.
After the rather dense tardiness of last week, what follows is a more sprightly, on-time(ish) and probably under-intellectualised reflection upon the greatest of all the Music As Readers, already touched upon variously in previous mixtapes: Nicholas Edward Cave. The game is this: peruse the tracks, note their relationship with a (or indeed several) authors/texts, and come out on one side of the following fence… Is Nick Cave the most intelligent reader in (with) music songwriting today, utilising, manipulating, critiquing, juxtaposing literary allusions into a unique multi-disciplinary musical texture? Or is he an intellectual mountebank, piggybacking his way – via a labyrinth of arbitrary quotations – into a place a lot like that Peter Doherty was looking for when he was all like, ‘Well wouldn’t it be nice to be Dorian Gray, just for a day.’ Clever Peter. Real GCSE-incisive.
Oh, and what happens to that question now that the man’s actually learnt how to write with words (The Proposition and Bunny Munro: wonderful! And the Ass Saw the Angel: not so much.)
In roughly canonical order – as in, the literary canon, not the Cave canon.
- Nick The Stripper – The Birthday Party (see mixtape title)
- Narcissist – The Libertines (Wilde, Dorian Gray)
- Hiding All Away – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (Sappho – and, indeed, Auden)
- Brompton Oratory – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (Luke the Evangelist)
- Wings Off Flies – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (Shakespeare, King Lear)
- Song of Joy – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (Milton)
- There She Goes My Beautiful World – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (John Rochester – along with, amongst others, John the Apostle, Karl Marx, Nabokov, Dylan Thomas, Larkin und so weiter, as Blixa Bargeld would say)
- Babe I’m On Fire – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (Walt Whitman – as well as Lorca)
- No Pussy Blues – Grinderman (Yeats and Eliot)
- Mack the Knife – Nick Cave (Bertolt Brecht, The Threepenny Opera)
- Loom of the Land – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (Nabokov again)
- We Call Upon the Author – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (John Berryman – and Bukowski and Hemingway)
- 13. Jack’s Shadow – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (Jack Abbot)
- 14. The Road (from the original score) – Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (Cormac McCarthy, The Road)
- *Where the Wild Roses Grow – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds feat. Kylie Minogue (Bunny Munro)
- *Sk8er Boi – Avril Lavigne (Bunny Munro)
*These last two are a bit of a cheat – basically, Cave’s latest novel, The Death of Bunny Munro, refers constantly to both the music, and the vaginas, of Kylie and Avril. So there is a connection – just a slightly more, um, complicated one.