Nick Cave and the re-invention of music journalism

That the songs are now of life, with life, not about life, is the tectonic shift that occurred with the Bad Seeds album Push the Sky Away. The songs are fragmentary, coherent enough to have a defined form, but open too, as they become more familiar, through replaying, hearing them has the effect of walking down a street you walk down every day and suddenly looking up, for the first time see something in a window you’ve never seen before. Life attaches itself to the songs as well. Just a few days ago I found a brilliant jazz trombonist Ryan Porter on Bandcamp. He’s well known to the world, but new to me, and I discovered he played on “Higgs Boson Blues”, sending me back to a song I must have played a thousand times, to hear it anew.

Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s movie of the making of the album removed the filter between Nick and his audience. Previously profile stories and interviews with journalists had been necessary to convey context. It too was of life, as is Andrew Dominik’s movie One More Time With Feeling, the making of the Skeleton Tree, which works with degrees of intimacy: the hyper-real and up close effect of 3D balanced with the formality and dignity of black&white images.

As the Bad Seeds toured the world with the Skeleton Tree album random, occasional polaroid images of the band in everyday situations in various cities, gloriously beautiful concert shots from audience members and a compelling, curatorial feed @nickcaveandthebadseeds2000 placed the tour within ordinary everyday life.

This is an exciting time to be trying to figure out how to write about Nick’s music, with powerfully authentic and detailed source material to draw from as he and his audience communicate directly with one another. There’s a new world being terraformed here.

I’ve been developing a concept for a catalogue for a fake auction of rare memorabilia … see mockup photograph … with all of the items photographed in home like settings, whose organising principle is that they’re all items of value, but would allow me to discuss Nick’s creations beyond the Bad Seeds … the country music in the soundtracks for Lawless and Hell or High Water, Grinderman, the Mars Documentary.

Then this comment from Nick came through on his newsletter.

“I’ve been feeling for a while that I’d like to talk to people about things. I’m not sure what to do with that. I’ve sort of had this idea of doing some kind of interview but I’m not sure that a regular press interview is the appropriate place to talk about certain things. Maybe some sort of dialogue beyond that might be valuable, where I can talk directly to people, in a more personal way. There seems to be some sort of understanding that now exists with our audience. The idea of an open dialogue with them seems a worthwhile thing to explore. Perhaps we might try and set up a series of events that are dialogues or conversations or something. Let things flow a little. I don’t know. I’m thinking maybe to take it on the road? What do you think?”


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