If I put the needle to the grooves,
let them cruise over me, my own
unruly car with your hands lashed
to the wheel,
I would find in those folds
the garden bursting, friends flying
off of bridges, like they had
two weeks to live;
at the most,
there can only be seventy-five
minutes of you in one sitting.
The record turns, black and bruised,
and pops itself into the fuss
of the middle, the speakers
twitching the night goodbye.
I never turned off, into a ditch,
grooves to the earth’s vinyl.
I don’t have a sleeve, closed up
by cardboard thanks and
Still the turning ends: the returning
will end, but not before I take
one more listen, rubbing my eyes
with it and grinding its valleys to plains.
The sound wandered in at night
as my eyelids were giving up
their fight for life,
that 90’s lull, a dull lullaby
which filtered through cracked bedroom
doors and puffed up the night
with nostalgia for something
I’d never heard before.
Dad used to sit on the bed,
one leg propped, and turn on
the stereo, the only music that
ever filled that shotgun cavern
of ours. The smoke that spilled
out of his room would make
the whole house moan like
a séance to the gods of cheap pickups.
The bluesman gave the tonic
and the shadows in the wood
skipped around with the joy
of an 8 to 5
with 2 sick days.
It was the last call, and Dad
was always ready to fill himself
with anything he could coax
out of that cassette.
And he and Pat had a long talk,
and they always agreed that working
2 hours overtime was worth
2 kids and an overdue light bill.
It was the sound of calloused hands that
made the blues not seem sad anymore.
I lay there in my four-post, two-sheet
bed and listened, and tried
to snatch pieces of my Dad
out of the chords that trailed
out of his bedroom.
[P.S. – This has been published on a poetry blog called Asphodel Madness! Click here to check it out!]
Released in 2008, Dig, Lazurus, Dig!!! is the fourteenth studio album by the prolific Nick Cave and his backup band, The Bad Seeds. It ranked high on many ‘Best Of…’ lists of 2008 and solidified Cave’s place in the modern musical scene. The lyrics of this album are also complex, but in a very different way. While other prominent wordsmiths like Leonard Cohen pride themselves on their poetic influences, Cave seems to find the most joy by combining and juxtaposing the smooth with the gritty, the secular and the sacred.
The timbre of the album is the most prominent juxtaposition on the album. It includes the basics of a rock group (vocals, guitar, bass, drums), but it also includes electronic sounds mixed with urban sound effects that give the impression of Mr. Cave singing to the cracked bricks of Hell’s Kitchen. The track “Night of the Lotus Eaters” displays Cave’s mythological influence by putting a modern edge on the ancient Roman myth of the Lotus Eaters, who appeared in The Odyssey and were said to eat the native lotus plants of their region. These plants are highly narcotic, and caused the people “to sleep in peaceful apathy” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus-Eaters). Lines such as, “The dragons roam the shopping malls / I hear they’re gonna eat our guts” and “Get ready to shield yourself / From our catastrophic leaders” mix the ancient and modern into a socially relevant concoction.
Night of the Lotus Eaters
Jesus of the Moon – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7aP8_hUFIc&feature=related
Hold on to Yourself
It’s surprisingly hard to find recordings of Cave’s work on YouTube. Someone needs to get on that.