Like any good, or wayward, biblical scholar, perennial penitent [a]Nick Cave[/a] knows that the sins of the father are destined to be replayed by the son...
Like any good, or wayward, biblical scholar, perennial penitent [a]Nick Cave[/a] knows that the sins of the father are destined to be replayed by the son. History does not record if Cave senior, an English lecturer, led an early life of wild excess and debauchery but, as he approaches middle age, Cave the younger acknowledges that everything he does brings him a step closer to his dear, departed daddy.
Originally delivered at the Vienna Poetry Festival in 1998, ‘The Secret Life Of The Love Song’ is a droll, imaginative appraisal of the form that has most inspired him in recent years. Its frame of reference includes the poets Lorca and Auden, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, as well as Kylie Minogue and Boney M. We may prefer our artists to be slavering inadequates, barely sentient fruitcakes, but both ‘The Secret Life…’ and ‘The Flesh Made Word’ (originally broadcast on Radio 3) are a reminder that sometimes the most impassioned artist can be an acerbic and penetrating critic. In his early solo career Cave was often enraged by critical assessments of his work and these lectures, joining such King Mob cultural landmarks as Ken Kesey, the Black Panthers and, er, Stewart Home, are a deliciously savoured and valuable type of revenge.
But Cave also delivers unerringly emotive rerecordings of his most exquisitely realised compositions (‘West Country Girl’, ‘Sad Waters’ and ‘Far From Me’). Balm for those who think it’s not so good to talk and magnificent examples of what he calls “my sad, gloomy-eyed children”. Long may he tend to their needs, by whatever means may be necessary.