From 1990’s The Good Son, this was the first song I heard by Nick Cave and my enduring favourite. No. Wait. Foi Na Cruz was the first Bad Seeds song I heard, but this was the first I didn’t think was crap. The Ship Song was another single, but I don’t even remember how that one goes. This was the one that had me humming right away – so immediate, so accessible, so belt it out on the way home from the pub.
The single mix is a little different from the version on the album – like anyone but a Proper Fan would even notice such things. I’m not a proper Nick Cave fan – more of a casual admirer. Been to a couple of concerts, never bought the t-shirt. JG Thirlwell was in the fledgling lineup of the Bad Seeds, and that sums up its appeal to me (not that I heard Foetus for a good few years after that): it’s the flippant gallows humour; the winking at the camera. The OTT melodrama that begs you not to take it seriously – though the music, of course, is sacrosanct. The Good Son came out after the Bad Seeds had been going a few years, and was recorded just after Cave emerged from rehab. He’d obviously been going through a tough time, but if you’re going to wallow in misery, you have to do it properly.
I listened most to Nick Cave while at my first job (the same time I discovered Foetus) – often on repeat, figuring that he was the one person more miserable than I was. I’m not sure if the correct term is schadenfreude or bathos. It was that point where you go so far beyond self-pity that it just becomes hysterically funny. Perhaps it was the sight, in the video, of Nick and Blixa clowning around on plastic “water”. Perhaps it was how much they looked like they were enjoying themselves.
Perhaps it’s just a great song.