Today is Nick Cave’s fiftieth birthday.
Why do I bother to mention it? Oh maybe just because he is one of the greatest living composers of music. Other than that, I can’t really think of a reason.
Okay, so I’m a fan. A HUGE fan as they say.
The first time I heard Nick Cave was when I went on a road trip to San Francisco with a friend and we went into the Tower Records down by the wharf to do a little record shopping. The album they were playing at the store was Kicking Against the Pricks – a collection of songs by artists that influenced his style: Johnny Cash, Lou Reed, Roy Orbison, John Lee Hooker, Leadbelly, and even Glenn Campbell. He covered “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Muddy Water,” “Hey Joe” and “Long Black Veil.” I knew these songs, but I’d never heard them sung like this before.
While I was searching through the bins looking for the hard-to-find records on my list, I kept getting more and more sucked into what I was hearing. His voice was deep and powerful, and the compositions that the Bad Seeds were playing were dense and sometimes menacing, but always mesmerizing.
I know I bought that album that day, and I know I bought a few more, but I can’t really remember what they were.
I’ve since bought every album he’s made after that one and the two before it, and they are all GREAT albums.
I’ve also been lucky enough to attend six of his concerts, even one in San Francisco many years later. I say “lucky” because he doesn’t tour the states that often.
His concerts are works of art. The Bad Seeds is made up of some of the most talented musicians in the business today. The sound that he and the band creates is incredibly complex. It can be very loud like a screaming howl from Hell and it can also be quiet and intricately subtle, but either way, there’s no mistaking who it is. I’ve been to hundreds of shows, and I’ve never heard anyone that sounds anything like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
And this year marked the debut of a smaller version of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds called GRINDERMAN. (Best album of the year so far, but you knew that already.) The subject matter and the music is different than what you get from the Bad Seeds, but it’s still Nick.
So raise a glass of whatever it is you like and say Happy Birthday to Nick Cave today.