soundtracking with Jordan Zivitz July 2009: Nick Cave, The Drones and Midnight OilJuly 11, 2009
Here is this month’s musical interlude from writer-critic-editor-friend-Gazette colleague Jordan Zivitz:
This month, for no good reason other than giving me an excuse to
prattle on about Nick Cave: lanky Australians who yell a lot.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: There She Goes, My Beautiful World
If I’m not in the office or feeding my cat, odds are very good that
I’m listening to Nick Cave. Not only is he the world’s greatest living
or dead songwriter (in my thoroughly objective opinion), but he has
music to match pretty much every mood: anger, rage, hatred,
depression, murderous rage, bitterness, psychotic rage… and those
are just his love songs. In seriousness, his songs span everything
from extreme devotion to extreme fury, and can be wickedly funny,
tragically sad and hyper-literate. I often use this one — from the
2004 double album Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus — to introduce
potential converts to Nick. Partly because it’s arguably my favourite,
and partly because the gospel singers make him less unsavoury to those
who might be turned off by, say, the 14-minute murder-spree saga
O’Malley’s Bar. I’m always amazed at the energy of this song — so
much so that it wasn’t until the 10th or 12th viewing that I realized
he totally flubs the last verse in this version. Oh, wait — God
doesn’t make mistakes, so he must have meant to forget the lyrics.
The Drones: Shark Fin Blues
Only twice have I bought an album purely on the strength of its title.
The second one was The Drones’ Wait Long by the River and the Bodies
of Your Enemies Will Float By. With a title like that, I reasoned, how
can it be anything less than awesome? (Conveniently forgetting the
time I purchased a Screeching Weasel CD because it was called
Boogadaboogadaboogada.) If a title ever fit an album, Wait Long by the
River did: It’s full of borderline nihilism and bile, but also hard-won triumph over adversity. Gareth Liddiard often has a venomous edge to his vocals — certainly on this song, which reminds me of a tighter, more dangerous Crazy Horse — and on days when I long to see the bodies of enemies floating by, this is the voice I need to hear.
Midnight Oil: Kosciuszko
Long before it was cool for musicians to give shout-outs to the Earth,
Midnight Oil was politically and socially engaged. That’s enough
reason to admire them; a better reason from a musical standpoint is
that they’re one of the most riveting live acts of all time. If you’ve
seen Peter Garrett doing his robot-on-a-bender dance in person, you
don’t need convincing. Since most people are well acquainted with the
likes of Beds Are Burning and Blue Sky Mine, I opted for this
thunderous winner from 1984’s Red Sails in the Sunset. (Dig the
sign-of-the-times viewer poll question about the Star Wars system
prefacing the performance.)
Jordan Zivitz is a music writer, critic and copy editor living in Montreal. But in his heart, he is living on Nick Cave’s tour bus.