r&r diary – “Nick Cave vs. the French Robots.” 06.03.21

I am an optimistic sort. But you know, I can go dark & existential with the best of them. I think everything will work out fine, but then again, I also know everything is liable to go to hell in a blink of an eye. That’s just the duality, and reality, of our lives.

I believe in progress and the good. But you know, the “future is unwritten,” and there is hope and peril in that reality, nothing is promised, everything can be taken away at any time. There are dark forces at work always. It’s always a battle between the dark and the light. It’s never-ending. Nothing should be taken for granted.

I’ve been listening to two records that kind of illustrate the divide. There’s Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “The Boatman’s Call” (1997). What is the sound of a soul in deep distress? What kind of lyrics does a man write, what kind of music pours from him when he is torn apart by the vicissitudes & the vanishing of love? Nick Cave goes deep & dark into the wounds of failed love and failed relationships. Funny. It is a beautiful record. A man in deep pain, a lament, an ode to lost love and deep turmoil. There is a hushed, gorgeous beauty. The Bad Seeds are holding back, playing so minimally. Nick is truly suffering, and he uses his suffering to create beauty. Beauty in sadness & loss.

“It ain’t that in their hearts they’re bad

They can comfort you, some even try

They nurse you when you’re ill of health

They bury you when you go and die

It ain’t that in their hearts they’re bad

They’d stick by you if they could

But that’s just bullshit, People just ain’t no good

People they ain’t no good” – N. Cave (1997)

The other record which I have been spinning often, one I “discovered,” during the pandemic, lockdown days, is Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” (2013). It is a bold, overwhelming, gratifying and inspiring sonic manifesto. It too is bounded by loss and sadness, but at the same time there is an amazing optimism, joy and pleasure to be found in the grooves. Surprising that two Robots (with some special guests) could convey such soul and heart. Giorgio Morodor tells the tale of his artistic life, and it’s just the most validating, beautiful & insightful monologue about musical creation and artistic freedom. There is a belief in the “sea of possibilities.” Remember the future? Daft Punk turns to the stars, the heavens, and sees an opening. And you know, maybe we “get lucky?” Then special guest Paul Williams (!?) sings a duet with the Robots on “Touch” and it’s just the most amazing moment of the record:

[Intro: Paul Williams]

“Touch, touch I remember touch

Touch, touch I remember touch

Where do I belong?

Touch, I need something more

I remember touch

I need something more in my mind”

[Reprise: Choir]

Hold on, if love is the answer, you’re home

Hold on, if love is the answer, you’re home

Hold on, if love is the answer, you’re home

So yeah, we have Nick and the Bad Seeds, and we have those French Robots. And they both speak to me. There is wisdom & beauty in the grooves. Food for the soul. – Jammer

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