And how a strange book by Nick Cave restored my sanity (this week, anyway)
Though I’ve played [Nick] Cave tunes in these pages before, I’ve never been a true aficionado of his music. I take some songs, leave others, and have never been a close student. His music has been described as everything from post-punk to goth rock to “skeletal blues,” none of which really capture all or even most of the incarnations he has perpetually evolved through over the years. Pinning a genre on him feels like a grave disservice. He is his own thing. And I’m happy to let him be. Contain him at your own dorkish rock-crit reductive peril.
And his book is much like his music, all sorts of un-peggable grand themes running through it. His publisher’s dust-jacket copy serves as one of the rare examples in the trade of not being guilty of overstatement. Cave’s is indeed a “profoundly thoughtful exploration” of “belief, art, music, freedom, grief and love.” All words that ring my bells (with the exception maybe of “grief”), and should yours’, too. Though grief, one gets the sense, is the white-hot forge that shapes the metal of his reflection. For the book was hatched shortly after Cave’s 15-year-old-son, Arthur, fell off a cliff in the British seaside town of Brighton, near the Caves’ home. It was an accidental death that an inquest determined came after young Arthur took LSD. After the book’s completion, Cave likewise lost an older adult son to a drug overdose in a seedy Melbourne motor inn. And considering Cave’s father was killed in a car accident when the former was just 21, if you want to read someone whose faith is hard-won, and came in spite of paying lots of loss tolls, Cave’s your man.