Sunday, July 10, 2011

A song a day: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Stagger Lee

It's always hard to pick a Nick Cave song because there are so many that I love - both old and new. However, Stagger Lee has always struck me as a perfect example of Nick Cave writing as it builds upon a blues standard through Cave's twisted world view. In his heart, I think Nick Cave is a blues man and regardless of the excursions into German Sturm und Drang or vaudeville, his true dark heart lies in the blues - tales of love, betrayal, violence and a vengeful God. Cave's preoccupations may have changed over the years but the essence is the same - the dark, the depraved and the unspoken. Here Cave turns Stagger into a brutal, fast quipping psychopath with lines such as:

She saw the barkeep, said, "O God, he can't be dead!"
Stag said, "Well just count the holes in the motherfucker's head"


"I'm a bad motherfucker, don't you know
But I'll crawl over fifty good pussies just to get one fat boy's asshole"

As is common with the Bad Seeds of that period, they are pretty restrained with a solid groove until the final coda when Blixa Bargeld unleashes a fearsome scream while the band indulges their full sonic fury (oh how I miss Blixa!). The more I listen to Nick Cave, the more I am astonished at how consistently strong his work his - he is truly one of the greatest artist of our times.


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