• rock and roll

    “I’ll miss you when you’re gone away forever.”

    by  • 15 Sep ’16 • rock and roll • 0 Comments

    I finally listened to Nick Cave’s new record, Skeleton Tree, on Spotify. It’s good. Really good. I hesitated because all the reviews I read had these lump-in-the-throat moments when the writers recounted the horrific death of his teenage son last summer and how the family is coping. That sort of thing didn’t really affect me until I became a dad. Now, it’s devastating.

    I think because the lyrics were completed before his tragic loss, listening only to the record is not as difficult an experience as I had been dreading. Yes, there are all kinds of eery coincidences (The record opens with the couplet “You fell from the sky / Crash landed in a field;” his son died when he fell from a cliff), but one is bound to see such coincidences when the modern master of the murder ballad experiences a violent loss of a loved one.

    But the final records by David Bowie and Warren Zevon, so assured that they were in fact living on borrowed time, offer much more difficult lyrical observations. And Lou Reed’s Magic and Loss and Songs for Drella (mourning the deaths of mentors Doc Pomus and Andy Warhol) and eels’ Electro-Shock Blues (initially about leader Mark Oliver Everett’s sister’s suicide…until his mom got diagnosed with terminal cancer, giving the record a somehow darker B-side) have far more specific and uncomfortable notes of regret and mourning.

    But then I saw the video for “I Need You.” If Skeleton Tree has a stand-out track, it is “I Need You.” It’s more droning and meditative than your usual Nick Cave song, and it has a hypnotic quality that is hard to get past.

    But the video…the video is devastating. I realize now that most of the early reviews of Skeleton Tree are responding more to the accompanying documentary than to the record itself. To cope with his son’s death, Cave rushed ino the studio to record the material he had been working on, and invited a documentary crew to record this train wreck as some sort of exercise in artistic self-flagellation.

    I doubt that the Skeleton Tree will ever leave medium-to-heavy rotation in my record collection (as soon as I find myself at an actual brick-and-mortar record store to buy the thing), but I doubt I can ever bring myself to watch the video of a slightly ragged and out-of-tune formerly-smooth crooner who just lost his son wail, “I’ll miss you when you’re gone away forever.”

    Tuli’s Archives

    by  • 28 Jun ’15 • me, new york, rock and roll, society • 0 Comments

    Gothamist has a pretty incredible story about some newly discovered Bob Dylan lyrics, to a song-never-recorded about Robert Moses. It’s easy to assume that the lyrics sheet is a hoax. But, because, it was discovered in the Tuli Kupferberg files, I’m inclined to regard it as legit. Tuli was a true American character. He...

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    Play The Legend

    by  • 15 Oct ’09 • at the movies, rock and roll • 0 Comments

    Can rock music ever go back to the days of “headphone records,” gatefold albums, mysterious liner notes and fans creating their own image of the band in their minds? Music video did much to kill the radio star, by presenting a carefully screened image for mass consumption…but Ed Sullivan started it all rolling downhill...

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    We Memoir Econo

    by  • 27 Sep ’09 • rock and roll • 0 Comments

    Michael Azerrad’s excellent collection of 13 micro-biogrophies of beloved 80’s indie bands is a love letter to the era when pop culture began to fragment into mini-mass media of fanzines, underground rock clubs and vanity record labels. Cribbed from a Minutemen lyrics, Azerrad’s book, “Our Band Could Be Your Life” fleshes out the notion...

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    “Ever Get The Feeling…”

    by  • 10 May ’09 • rock and roll • 0 Comments

    Finally watching Julian Temple’s revisionist Sex Pistols documentary, “The Filth and the Fury,” I get the feeling that perhaps I wasn’t cheated after all. Like many 15-year-olds, the Sex Pistols for me were a gateway to new rebellion and new friends. I bought every officially released note of music and a goodly amount of...

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    Things the Grandchildren Should Buy

    by  • 31 Mar ’09 • rock and roll • 0 Comments

    Eels frontman, E., has long mined personal tragedy to make uplifting art. Starting with 1997’s beautiful “Electro-Shock Blues,” a visceral elegy to the twin tragedies of his sister’s suicide and his mother’s death from cancer (events that occurred within months of his scoring his first big hit with “Novocain for the Soul”), and culminating...

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