[Photo by JONATHAN VALANIA]
Love, violence, death and America have always been themes for Australian-born singer-composer Nick Cave — Murder Ballads and Abbatoir Blues are just two of his album titles — so he was perhaps a natural to compose the soundtrack for last year’s epically paranoid Western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Cave also wrote the screenplay and soundtrack for the Australian epic The Proposition, which Roger Ebert described as “pitiless and uncompromising, so filled with pathos and disregarded innocence that it is a record of those things we pray to be delivered from.” Cave appeared in Wim Wenders’ 1987 film Wings of Desire, and he’s written both plays and novels. Now Cave has released a new CD with his band the Bad Seeds. The title? Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! The inspiration, he says, is the Biblical story of Lazarus’ return from the grave.
RELATED: In the beginning, there was The Birthday Party. And it was good. Rock n roll as sonic aneurysm: screeching, cataclysmic and cruel. The Birthday Party was scary, but not in the corny Count Chocula way of most of the Kabuki-faced goths that followed in its wake, but, like, Exorcist scary. Danger was the Birthday Party’s business, and in the early ’80s business was good. Nick Cave was the human cannonball at the microphone, and the band would just light his fuse and run for cover. When the audience demanded blood, Cave would open up and bleed with the best of them. When he got bored with that, he would lunge into the crowd for a good punch-up and casually drop kick any skull that dared to violate the sacred space of the stage. Needless to say, there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth. The Birthday Party nicknamed one tour ‘Whoops, I’ve Got Blood On The Tip Of My Boot’ Tour.
And then there were drugs — bags and bags of drugs. The worst drugs money can buy. It wasn’t long before Cave was willing to cut off his leg to feed his arm, and things only grew more ghoulish and dastardly. He was literally scrawling song lyrics into his notebook with a blood-filled syringe. Until one day when the Birthday Party ran out of blood and the willingness to extract it from others. All things move towards their end, Cave would later sing, and the Birthday Party had stopped moving. So ends the first chapter in the Gospel of Nick. […]
Along the way, something miraculous happened: Nick The Ripper transfigured into old Saint Nick and he became…wait for it…capital-G great. While many still probably assume he sleeps in a coffin and others have convicted him in absentia for the fashion crimes of a million po-faced goth twinks, the standard by which he measures himself as an artist is the work of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Leonard Cohen — before which, he will tell you if you bother to ask, he feels humbled. Although he’ll deny it, the music he has been making since, oh I dunno, at least as far back as 1996’s Murder Ballads, breathes the same rarefied air those artists once exhaled. At times stripped nearly to the bone of silence — and devoid all the pretense, posturing and dark intent that could sometimes mar his earlier work — these psalms of love and devotion lift their skinny arms toward heaven, where they once pounded the sands of the abyss. And it was good. Very good. — Jonathan Valania
Is peace possible between Israel and the Palestinians? We talk with AARON DAVID MILLER author of The Much Too Promised Land: America’s Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace. For the previous two decades, he served at the Department of State as an adviser to six Secretaries of State, where he helped formulate U.S. policy on the Middle East and the Arab-Israel peace process, most recently as the Senior Adviser for Arab-Israeli Negotiations. Miller is currently a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC. Listen to this show via Real Audio | mp3
This Sunday through Thursday PBS will air a 10-part series filmed aboard the USS Nimitz a nuclear aircraft carrier during a six month deployment to the Persian Gulf in 2005. We talk about the history and future of aircraft carriers and their role in American naval strategy with NORMAN POLMAR, naval analyst and consultant. Listen to this show via Real Audio | mp3
THE WORLD CAFE
Melody Gardot didn’t start her musical career out of a grand artistic vision. While riding her bicycle, she was hit by the driver of a Jeep making an illegal turn. Hospitalized for months, Gardot used music for recovery therapy, at doctors’ suggestion. In the ensuing months, Gardot took up the guitar — it was hard for her to sit at the piano — and recorded what would become the Some Lessons EP. Determined to make more music, she independently recorded and released Worrisome Heart, a jazzy singer-songwriter affair that brings to mind Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, and Eva Cassidy. The CD has since been reissued by a major label.
MELODY GARDOT: Worrisome Heart