Monday, April 29, 2013

Brief, Highly Subjective Divagation on Nick Cave

So what do we make of Nick Cave?  He looks rough and ugly, but he sounds like Leonard Cohen.  To call him “post-punk” implies that there’s something punk about him.  I don’t think there is.

Now, I’m rather new to his music.  The first Nick Cave album that I encountered was his latest, Push the Sky Away.  It was chill as fuck, except really sinister at the same time.  Although actually, my first exposure to Cave came years ago, long before I knew who he was.  This was way back in the day (I mean in my adolescence, which I’d rather forget), when I watched Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire (1987), in which Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds perform at a Berlin bar.  I don’t know what the song is called, but the refrain goes like this: “La la la la, a murder of crows, la la la, no one saw the carnie go” (the la la las are filler, I don’t remember much of the lyrics).  It sounded wonderful creepy. And the female lead—a trapeze artist—dances moodily in the audience, while Bruno Ganz—and Thomas Bernhard asserted that Ganz was the greatest German actor of his time, in his novel The Woodcutters—Burno Ganz is an angel and the humans can’t see him, but he loves the trapeze artist and gawks at her while she dances.

And I subsequently always associate Nick Cave with the grimy Berlin nightlife, and with David Bowie in Berlin, and especially with the Weimar scene.  Not that I know much about the Weimar “scene,” it’s probably a series of clichés.  But there are images that one associates with Weimar:  expressionist movies, expressionist movie posters; cabaret; weird sex; Woody Allen’s Shadows and Fog; Brecht and Weil; Dada; weird androgynous singers like Klaus Nomi (who wasn’t from that period, but he doesn’t have to be, these are just images); and finally poor goddam Amanda Palmer.  Jesus, the obscenity of millionaires on Kickstarter.  Do they not see themselves? Have they no self-awareness?  Kickstarter is theoretically a good idea: let poor artists with ideas go online and get money to make their ideas into reality.  I don’t object to that.  But Amanda Palmer is not poor (her husband, Mr. Gaiman, certainly isn’t poor); and Zach Braff isn’t poor; and whoever’s involved in Veronica Mars (this was not a thing that I followed when it was on TV), I say, they’re certainly not poor.  And why do people who can’t write poems attempt to write poems (cf. Amanda Palmer’s “Poem for Dzhokar”)?  First off, they’re not even trying to write poems.  They’re writing free associative prose with line breaks.  They’re like fucking adolescents who think that poetry is just supposed to be a pseudo-mystical (or mystifying) outpouring of feeling; now, it’s painful enough when adolescents do this, but Christ, Amanda Palmer’s 36.  Also, she’s a song writer, she’s written songs, a song is a poem with music attached, she should know something about meter at least.

Thanks for screwing up the Weimar aesthetic, Palmer.  Now we can only wait for the inevitable Cabaret remake (presumably starring Lady Gaga) to come along and revive it.

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