Tag Archives: dudes

Songs: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “And No More Shall We Part” (2001)

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “And No More Shall We Part” (lyrics). I believe the above performance is from a French television show.

I am starting a new Tumblr/blog series for 2011! It is about songs that have somehow impacted my life, and why. I was going to write about entire albums, and then I realized that that would become a huge undertaking that I would end up never finishing. So: an intermittent series on songs, because many songs are bite-sized, aurally speaking, and manageable enough for me to write about and not feel like I’m giving other things (other tracks on an album, for example) short shrift.

I’ve been trying to write about this song, and what it means to me, for the past couple of days and have been mostly coming up blank. No More Shall We Part was the first Nick Cave & TBS album I bought, around early 2006 or so, after an internet friend, Sarah, had included “Do You Love Me (Part 1)” (which, strangely, is not on that album!) on a mix some years before, and I kept pressing the back button each time the track would end. I can’t remember the reason why I bought this album first; it may have been the first result on Amazon when I typed in “nick cave and the bad seeds,” or it may have had the highest rating on iTunes or something.

The “real” reason, though, is not important. Nick Cave’s music–despite the weird, sometimes off-putting reliance on the women-as-goddesses-or-evil-temptresses trope of some of his work (or, in the case of most of 1995’s Murder Ballads, as victims of homicide by men)–has meant a lot to me, and continues to. No More Shall We Part is my favorite album of his and the Bad Seeds.

I first heard this album–and this song, which was the one that really grabbed me–during a particularly difficult time in my life. Out of nowhere, I had started experiencing moderate to severe chronic pain and fatigue to go with it, and I had no idea what to do. None of the doctors I saw could figure out what was wrong with me. When I was tired or in too much pain to do very much (which was often), I would rest and listen to music. “And No More Shall We Part” was one of the songs that I listened to constantly; almost without fail, whenever I played it, I’d listen to it at least three or four times because it was just that affecting.

I don’t believe in God. Nick Cave, however, does, and is not shy about expressing this in his lyrics. “And No More Shall We Part” contains many references to God; though this specific aspect of the song did not grab me, something about the way he sings it absolutely did.

Lord, stay by me
Don’t go down
I’ll never be free
If I’m not free now

Lord, stay by me
Don’t go down
I never was free
What are you talking about?

I didn’t believe in God, then. I needed something, however, to get me through the worst of the pain, to remind me that I was going to be okay even if the doctors–if most people around me, to an extent–couldn’t see what was going on in my body. It’s hard to put into words, but Cave’s voice was that hand reaching through my headphones, assuring me that I would be okay, even if I felt alone and scared and hopeless and bad for having health problems–and, ultimately, even if I couldn’t see any answers on the immediate horizon.

[Originally posted on my Tumblr]

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In which Roxy Music provides a much-needed Lesson For Us All

[Image description: A raven-haired man wearing a black velvet suit and white shirt leans against a wall.]

First: LOOK AT THIS STYLISH MAN, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS BRIAN FERRY. He is SO STYLISH. I wish I could be half as stylish as he is. I have a black velvet blazer hiding in my closet, which I have been known to break out when I, too, wish to be stylish in the way that only a rocker from the 1970s can be, but have not yet found a pair of velvet pants to complete the look.

Second: While writing some of this, I realized that it might be helpful to have some actual examples of precisely what I mean when I say that Roxy Music is an amazing band, so here is an entirely separate post in which I share some of my favorite songs of theirs.

My favorite bit of music trivia ever is Roxy Music-related**: band member Brian Eno did not know how to play the keyboard before he joined Roxy Music. For reasons as to why this is completely amazing, look no further than Wikipedia’s page on Eno. He has gone on to have a lengthy, influential and successful music career even though he once joined a band, as its keyboard player, without knowing how to play that instrument.

I love Roxy Music and Brian Ferry not just for the music, but because they remind me that I can have an impact with my own work that, though it will most definitely not appeal to everyone, may have some sort of impact on someone. I am an indescribably crappy guitar player (mostly because fibromyalgia-related hand and arm pain prevent me from banging out anything other than a few chords). I am not a great singer. I will never be Ani DiFranco. I will never be Patti Smith, nor PJ Harvey, nor Tori Amos, nor Alanis Morissette, nor Beth Ditto, nor Me’shell Ndegeocello. These people are all talented, I am a fan of each of them, and their success is well-deserved; however, I will probably never approach that level of success, as the work I do is not in the getting-up-onstage-and-singing-in-front-of-people field.

Hell, I have a blog. Which I write on, and which I take extremely seriously. I write and draw a lot of stuff on various topics — most of this work has not been published (yet), or shown to other people (yet), and almost none of it has been the center of controversy or much attention (barring my work on that one thing).

If I may be philosophical and mildly tedious for a minute: Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry’s work remind(s) me is that there is a whole lot of good in just being whatever you are and, simultaneously, not knowing what you are doing all of the time (like Brian Eno and the whole not-knowing-how-to-play-the-keyboard-thing), and that it is okay to be “okay” at something as long as you love it. You do not have to be the greatest and most original band/singer ever to make an impact.

And, paradoxically, that is part of what makes Roxy Music such a great band.

Your weirdness, your originality, and your style do not have to be constantly calculated down to the very millisecond, or planned out in infintesimal detail, or boasted about on Twitter every ten seconds. There is room for those things to just develop and grow by themselves, if you let them. I think many segments of the entertainment industry–and, unfortunately, a lot of “creative” types–tend to forget this. Of course, part of that is how the “business” works, but for those of us who aren’t in the industry (but who are still in the age of Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook wall updates with instantly-emailed notifications), this can be difficult to remember.

But, it is worth remembering.

**[That is, other than the rumor that Tori Amos has $100,000 worth of “hand insurance” in case her hands are ever irrevocably injured. I am sure there is a source for this somewhere on the internet, but I haven’t quite found it yet. If any Tori fans have a citation for said factoid that proves or disproves this rumor, please feel free to leave it in the comments so that I can continue being lazy in regards to internet research.]

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Why Roxy Music is awesome (as is Bryan Ferry)

This is part one of a two-part post on Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry, and why they are fabulous. The songs here are some of my favorites, and this post is intended to give readers/listeners a little preview as to this band’s total awesomeness. Take it away, random YouTube users!

“In Every Dream Home a Heartache” from For Your Pleasure (1972): This, unequivocally, is the song that made me a Roxy fan. There are so many layers here — like a delicious sandwich, if you will pardon the metaphor — and, more importantly, you do not have to know jack shit about music, songwriting, or composition to realize this. The lyrics, I think, essentially predicted suburbia’s dead end and/or souless McMansion-white-picket-fence-with-traditonal-heterosexual-marriage-big-SUV-and-2.5-children before those things even existed as specific Western cultural artifacts. I am sure that there is some sort of Technocultural Studies dissertation that could be written about this song (perhaps with a snappy, oh-so-postmodern title to go along with it?), but my relentless fannish devotion (among other things) prevents me from even considering taking on such a project.

“Mother of Pearl” from Stranded (1973): While it’s not my favorite Roxy song, it is a classic, and a good introduction to the band’s overall style.

“The Thrill of it All” from Country Life (1974): Ignore the retrogradely sexist cover art — and also dig the weirdness of that command coming from someone who has a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies (namely me). Country Life is my favorite Roxy album other than For Your Pleasure, and admitting this probably counts as blasphemy in some circles (as it was the group’s first album after Brian Eno left). But admit it, I must, because the album is so freaking good. And one verse (somewhat indirectly) alludes to a rather famous Dorothy Parker poem, so what’s not to love?

“Casanova” from Country Life (1974): This is my favorite Roxy song of all time. I can’t quite put into words how fantastic it is in every way possible; thus, I urge you to listen. The lyrics are brilliant; anyone who’s been graphically catcalled by gross dudes or unskillfully hit on by some creepy, drunken fraternity trust-fundie asshat at a bar will be able to relate. I would like to think that this is Bryan Ferry’s message to other dudes in which he says, “Guys, stop acting like such monkeys and/or thinking you’re totally suave, because you are actually the opposite of suave,” but my interpretation could be way off.

“Same Old Scene” from Flesh + Blood (1980): It’s from the ’80s! Otherwise known as that decade where some mostly drugged-out rich people made a lot of terrible music, and which is mostly invoked when hipsters want to be nostalgic for crap that they were too young to remember as crap! But please, do not worry, because “Same Old Scene” is an example of something good that came from that decade.

And if, after all of that, you need evidence that Bryan Ferry’s “still got it,” look no further than his many Bob Dylan covers, including “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” (performance is in the first two minutes or so of the clip, and the rest consists of him talking about his album of Dylan covers, which is also interesting):

Better than the original, I think (again, blasphemy in certain circles). But then again, I am one of those weirdos who really likes his cover of “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” (link goes to an absolutely incredible short film of Ferry’s version that must be seen to be believed), mostly because that cover is so bizarre that it ends up being wildly entertaining.

That concludes part one of my Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry post; part two will be posted soon.

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