So I promised 2 new features and 2 new features you shall have…
Feature the second, “Ooh Yeah I’d Forgotten About That Song”.
A feature built on the premise of the shuffle function on an iPod. You know that feeling when for one reason or another you can’t think what to listen to and you stick your music playing device of choice on shuffle and it throws up something you’d consigned to the back of your mind. Alternatively for the more old fashioned reader (including myself here) it’s when a disc-jockey plays out a track on the radio you haven’t heard in a while and you think “ooh yeah i’d forgotten about that song”
Basically one way or another we all end up forgetting about something brilliant from time to time and i’m going to try and save those songs from the garbage bin and summarise that beautiful moment of realisation in a rambling description of warmth and familiarity!
So for starters….
NICK CAVE & THE BADSEEDS – GOD IS IN THE HOUSE
The first track to my knowledge I ever heard by Nick & The Gang was God Is In The House. It was, like many firsts it has to be said, on Jools Holland. Nick sat at the grand piano, Warren Ellis sat on it and played the haunting violin solo, and the rest of The Badseeds just sort of hung about looking like some drunks they’d found in the pub. Basically this was my idea of what music should be! This was a gang, not in The Ramones “we’re young, we’re cool and we’re going to fuck shit up” sort of sense but in the we’ve been hanging out at the same bar for 30 years, probably wearing the same suits and occasionally when we feel like it we write the most stunning pieces of music you’re likely to here, then we probably go back to the pub to celebrate sort of sense.
What makes this track so special? Well there’s the lyrics for starters, it’s classic Nick Cave and classic Nick is about as good as it gets right? Here we see a love song to a city that could never really exist in this cruel, cruel, cruel world. It’s the sort of place Helen Lovejoy in The Simpsons would call heaven and no longer need to demand anyone think of the children.
He discussed the police force “we’ve got a tiny little force, we need them of course for the kittens in the trees”, local government “we have a pretty little square, we have a woman for a mayor, our policy is firm but fair”, and the racial profiling of cats “we’ve bred all our kittens white, so you can see them in the night”.
Now I don’t know Cave personally of course, but something tells me this isn’t his idea of heaven? It’s personal interpretation but this to me is Nick poking fun at the sort of provincial, small-minded, Mail reading, middle-england types, who for whatever reason believe they’re making the world a better place. I don’t know if he’s a religious man but there’s a less than subtle dig at those who hide behind the church as the last bastion of morality. At one points he talks about the towns opinion of those who don’t belong as he says “homos roaming the streets in packs, queer-bashers with tyre jacks, lesbian counter-attacks, that stuff is for the big cities” and we start to see what’s wrong with this world. How the kind of people who try to sanitise the world of evil, become close-minded, bigoted and scared of any little differences. The selective-breeding of the kittens is also to my mind a metaphor for racism, but as a resident of the town of course they’d never admit any racism, the kind of people who live in little England and start sentences “I’m not racist but…”. It perhaps even goes further hinting at how this close minded approach can lead to the rise of Naziism and Fascism, but maybe i’m reading too much into it.
Whatever you take away from the lyrics, and they are certainly open to interpretation, to fit so much thought-provoking material into one relatively short track is simply mind-blowing. Especially when you also manage to fit in a stunning violin solo as well?
Musically it’s a fairly subtle piano-led number. Cave for the most part left to spit his words with minimal accompaniment. The bass and drums are used beautifully throughout and when he’s let loose the violin solo is a reminder of just what a talented man Warren Ellis is. His prolific partnership with Cave (as well as being a key Badseed, he & Cave have composed film soundtracks and performed in filthy rock & roll side-project Grinderman) alongside his work with the Dirty Three surely make him the best violinist in alternative music.
If you’ve not heard it before you’re in for a treat, if like me you’d forgotten it existed take some time out and listen to it with fresh ears, it’s a stunning example of what makes music worth listening to. Who says nobodies got anything to say anymore?