11 April 2008

Nick Cave and the Bad Taste in my Mouth

From Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Fan Page on Myspace:

Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!: The Book

I pre-ordered mine yesterday - get yours before it's gone!

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!: The Book: Strictly Limited
Strictly limited edition, hard back, four inch square book, forty-six pages long, with three inch CD inside with the track 'Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!'. This book contains handwritten lyrics and notes from Nick Cave, photos and the story of the song 'Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!', along with an interview with Nick, and artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster about their story along with pictures of Sue and Tim working on creating the installation artwork for the front cover of the 'Dig...' album. All the material is not available anywhere else and has been specifically put together by Nick for this book.

Nick Cave: The little book is about the making of the song "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! It is a curiosity that deals with the preparation and final glorious outcome of a project that began on the back of an envelope, a literal 'scrap' of an idea and ended up evolving into a genuine cultural icon and classic rock'n'roll song, due to the collaborative efforts of myself and Brit artists Sue Webster and Tim Noble. The song, which is a comic re-imagining of the Lazarus myth (placing the recently 'risen' Lazarus in 70's New York City) is accompanied by an eight foot square light sculpture, employing over 750 light bulbs, built by Webster and Noble. This little book documents the journey of this mammoth collaboration. Dig it!!!


Alright. As most of you know, I'm obsessed with Nick Cave. I think he is one of the biggest geniuses to ever grace music and literature. I own all of his albums, whether it be on CD, Vinyl, or MP3. I have read and written about his incredibly good novel And the Ass Saw the Angel. I have listened to his speeches The Secret Life of the Love Song and The Flesh Made Word numerous times, memorizing passages which I can deliver in a wicked impression of the man. I even own an autographed copy of the first volume of King Ink, which I keep propped up against the lamp by the side of my bed. It is one of the two last things I see before I close my eyes and go to sleep at night, the other being Jacki's face (which I value more--let's not think I am deranged obsessed).

When his new album came out, I was at first rather unimpressed and I did not like the title track. At all. After a few more listens and seeing him at the Plug Awards, where he played mostly songs from his new album, I grew to agree with him that it was a "monstrously good new album" and that I had too hastily judged it. I listened to it again last night after taking a week or two break from it at Erica and Gary's place after midnight, and I loved it. The lyrics on the album are especially good. The textures and noises are of particular note and deserving of relish and revel.

But for fuck's sake, it is not the crowning achievement of music in the twenty-first century. The worst song on Grinderman is probably better than DIG!'s first track. So why the constant ego indulgence? The cover art, no matter how big in real life and how famous the post-modern or post-post-modern artists are, is nothing more than the title of the record as a neon sign, and there is no other album artwork to speak of--a couple of black and white pictures of individual seeds and Cave. The main focus is, rightly, the words, like a poetry book. Black type on white pages. Fine by me. A song from an album that is only out this month in America and last month in the UK is neither a "genuine cultural icon" or a "classic rock'n'roll song." The Lazarus that is resurrected (or rather not resurrected, nor indeed Lazarus, come back from the dead, come to tell you all) in Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" will remain a cultural touchstone much more so than what is nothing more than an ephemeral generic three chord rock song lacking a bridge and containing good lyrics. This kind of bragging is not attractive or true when the Gallagher boys from Oasis do it, is not welcome or justified when Marilyn Manson does it ("If I was Your Vampire" is the new "Bela Lugosi's Dead"--shah, and monkeys might fly out of my ass), and is not any more acceptable or warranted when literary and musical master Nick Cave is doing it for a song that is barely out of the doorway.

I usually love Cave's rich allusions to the bible and to other poets and writers, but give me the clever and compelling "I'm not getting any" blues of Grinderman's second and last track any day over this half-baked song.


modernaged said...

Wonder why there was no book for Let Love In?

Because it stands on it's own.

See -- I told you that title track was a campy showtune in disguise. Believe me now??

noiselessinfinity said...

This is 2008. If it was released more than three days ago, it's considered a classic. 1994 may as well be the Precambrian.

A completely unnecessary collector's item, this is. Definitely not worth 6.99 GBP (approx. 13.77 USD). I have other things to spend that kind of bread on.

As for the title track being a campy showtune in disguise: what disguise? Sounded like it waltzed in drunk off the Vegas Strip from the first day we heard it. I was never impressed with it; enjoyed it for what it was, campy, good lyrics, simple. But yes, it is not the highest point of the album and really doesn't need a goddamn book to explain it!

KLA* said...

Well said, Chris. I'm not saying the song is bad; I'm saying it's not classic and this kind of bragging and collector fetishism is annoying.

frankie teardrop said...

real quick jab in the ribs: you have about 75% of nick cave's work kicking around. there's more that you haven't heard yet. until recently, i only had about 90% of it. i think i'm almost there.

dan: let love in (my second favorite bad seeds record) was successful mostly due to erratic lollapalooza performances and some late night mtv exposure. both albums in question are/were driven by marketing. i wouldn't say that album 'stands on its own,' for i don't think anyone would have given a damn had it not been on the heels of the band's growing momentum and these appearances. if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it...etc. etc. etc.

anyway...though i agree that this book leaves a pretty bad taste in my mouth as well, it seems nick is more proud of this track than anything the bad seeds have released in quite some time.

this song is probably nick's biggest single in years (crack out the last few records- this might be his biggest 'hit' since 'where the wild roses grow'-i would be up for a debate on this, but i'm merely suggesting it's very plausible), and just because WE don't like it so much doesn't mean it's not relevant and a muchly needed moment in cave's career, especially in these uncertain times post-blixa and in some fan's eyes, post-credibility. 'dig, lazarus, dig!' is actually bringing nick cave to a new bit of prominence this year, pleasing a lot of old fans as a return to form (in the vein of grinderman) after several albums of ballads, which i imagine old school fans were not too into. it's also earned the band some new fans, from what i hear a-buzzing.

in regards to the book, it's hardly the most ridiculous collector's item i've ever seen. i naturally will not be purchasing it (and would make fun of any of you if you had), but when they start making collectable bad seeds action figures, only then i'll join you on the soapbox.