Sunday, June 28, 2009

John Finn's Wife - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Artist: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Album: Live Seeds

From the live album “Live Seeds”, “John Finn’s Wife” shows the Bad Seeds at their absolute formidable, murderous best. This song arrives much like the narrator in the song – crazy eyed, dangerous and without remorse. Whilst the intro (and outro) hints at the beauty of the woman that the song is named after, the body of the song is brawling, chaotic, throwing you into the midst of a bar brawl where someone is going to be killed by night’s end. The imagery of people too terrified to move is nicely juxtaposed by the hurtling speed of which the Bad Seeds are careening at. Not a second is wasted and moments of terror are thrown in off the cuff by the band – see (what I assume to be spontaneous) Blixa Bargeld’s scream at 4.03.

The outro of the song leaves the narrator surrounded by the body of the man whose wife he has stolen, through a persuasive combination of white-hot lust and violence. As the song falls away it reminds me of Cave’s later film work “The Proposition” – a description of a brutal time where might was right and people moved on quickly from the remains of violence.

This song propelled me through a night in Key West, Florida in 2004. After a 3-day (continual) bus ride between NYC and Miami I ended up in Key West with nowhere to go and no plans. Not having enough money to get a room, I came across a Youth Hostel at 11pm that rented bicycles. I had the $10 required for a 12-hour rent, a purchase that would keep me busy until my 9am bus ride back to NYC. From 11pm to 8am I rode the entire island in equal parts an effort to stay awake and to see as much as I could of a very beautiful place (albeit at night). Riding past Hemmingway’s once residence, listening to this song I felt he would appreciate the imagery of a night where death arrives in a chaotic and taut manner, and the dense air of fear that pervades the body of the song.

Any fear of riding throughout the night (in what I would assume is one of America’s safest towns) was easily vanished by the bravado that this album empowers the listener with. It is easy to imagine oneself as Cave throughout, whether commanding the audience from the stage or being transported to locations of soon to be crime, deciding who is going to live or die, on a whim and a sense of possible deceit. The entire concert follows this pattern of rampage and is a riveting hour of violence; waiting, execution and no thought as to whether what has been committed could be wrong or regrettable. At this stage of Cave’s career (and his following Bad Seeds) I feel he was absolutely invincible - unstoppable in whichever direction he chose to turn.

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