Sunday 12 December 2010

Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music

The first seven lines creep up on you like a stalking tiger. They, then, wrap around your legs like an evergreen shrub and climb up your body until they reach your head. Finally, they break in. Chaos is about to ensue.

When/if the times ever comes to decide upon a melody that perfectly captures a lover's feelings of dejection (and rejection) Nick Cave's "There She Goes, My Beautiful World" must be placed either near or at the top

With this post I am not intending to steal Laura Barton's mantle. The author of the 'Hail, Hail, Rock'n'Roll' columns I thoroughly enjoy every fortnight is inimitable. Nick's song, however, deserves to be dissected because it calls to a different part of me. A part you could say that is rooted in the hopeless, hapless romantic fool I have been at times in my life (not for many years, fortunately, I hasten to add). But, say, dear fellow blogger/reader, who hasn't ever penned a love letter after being dumped?

Letters. Yes, let's talk about letters. Love letters, rejection letters (not of the job type, mind), unrequited love. Missives whose margins still lie firmly on the left. Spillages that owe more to fountain pens than to oil companies. Correspondence born out of different emotions: elation, annoyance, compassion and despondency. Despondency. Step forward Mr Cave.

For some reason, I imagine that the Australian singer wrote "There She Goes..." on a piece of paper, longhand, sitting down on a rock, with his right leg crossed over his left one. I can perfectly imagine him drafting up that second stanza: "John Willmot penned his poetry/riddled with the pox/Nabakov wrote on index cards/at a lectern, in his socks..." I love the way he likens the difficult conditions in which these authors wrote their correspondence to his own predicament:"Well, me, I'm lying here, with nothing in my ears/Me, I'm lying here, with nothing in my ears/Me, I'm lying here, for what seems years/I'm just lying on my bed with nothing in my head". He is empty. He has been emptied. By his lover. Can you empathise with him, bloggers/readers? How many times have you sat there, in your lounge, you, forlorn ex-, wanting to write the letter that will wash everything away, that will return your partner to you, and yet, you can't find the words?

The love letter has a long history. Whether written by jilted lovers or hopeful ones, there are so many examples in literature that picking one or two seems unfair on the rest. However who can forget Beethoven's romantic epistle to his 'immortal beloved'?

"Why this profound sorrow, when necessity speaks? Can our love endure without sacrifices, without our demanding everything from one another, can you alter the fact that you are not wholly mine, that I am not wholly yours?"

C'mon, play the 'Moonlight Sonata' whilst you're reading the words above. And then think of all those lovers who've had to face the stark reality: a 'Return to Sender' for their efforts.

But how many can conjure up the spirits of a German philosopher, a French post-impressionist painter, an English poet and a Welsh writer and still make sense of a sung plea to his lover? Or maybe not make sense at all, but at the same time making it? If you know what I mean. Does it make sense? Anyway, Nick pulls it off beautifully:

"Karl Marx squeezed his carbuncles while writing Das Kapital/And Gaugin, he buggered off, man, and went all tropical/While Philip Larkin stuck it out in a library in Hull/And Dylan Thomas died drunk in St. Vincent's hospital"

But if Nick is heart, the piano in 'There She Goes... is soul. Especially as the song reaches its climax. Pity that in the clip below the keyboard is drowned out by the two guitars and bass. In my recording (commonly found on my mp3 player) the frenzy caused by the triumvirate of Cave, lyrics and piano is enough to send me on a sprinting run, especially as I normally listen to this melody whilst out jogging. The irony is that love letters from rejected parties are meant to be calm affairs of the heart. Your passion has been subdued, you can do nothing but give up. Cry your eyes out, drink your blues away, or eat a whole box of bon-bons with your friends. Yet Nick's insistence on becoming one notch up above a doormat borders on the insane: "I will kneel at your feet/I will lie at your door/I will rock you to sleep/I will roll on the floor/And I'll ask for nothing/Nothing in this life/I'll ask for nothing/Give me ever-lasting life"

Valedictory reflection from me today? Sometimes you don't want anyone to know what and how you're feeling. It happened to John Keats. He knew he didn't have much time left in this world on account of his tuberculosis, Yet, that was not deterrent to pen one of the most beautiful love letters ever written, in his case, to Fanny Brawne ("... The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest. When you pass'd my window home yesterday, I was fill'd with as much admiration as if I had then seen you for the first time...") The missive remained secret many years after the poet's death. Some other times, though, you want to shout out to the whole world: "I've loved and I've been loved!" Enter Nick again:

"I just want to move the world. I just want to move the world/I just want to move the world/I just want to move (...) So if you got a trumpet, get on your feet, brother, and blow it/If you've got a field, that don't yield, well get up and hoe it/I look at you and you look at me and deep in our hearts know it/That you weren't much of a muse, but then I weren't much of a poet..."

Unrequited love has never sounded so passionate, sincere and honest. Thanks, Nick.

© 2010

Next Post: ‘Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Christmas and New Year Reflections and Music’, to be published on Sunday 19th December at 10am (GMT)


  1. So sorry, Cuban. Nick Cave is not my cup of tea, at all. He sounds angry and upset and ready to bust loose. I want to get out of his way, not pay attention to his rage.

    I guess it's a man's reaction to being rejected. I'm picturing some other sound in my head, a mournful dirge of lost times, and lost opportunities.

    But you got me thinking about this topic; and that's always a good thing.

  2. Never mind, lake. I do appreciate your honesty. In fact, Nick didn't use to be my cup of tea either until I listened to 'Mercy Seat'. Many thanks for your feedback, though. :-)

    Greetings from London.

  3. He's not to my taste either but this is, as always, an eloquent and beautifully written post. I don't mind text that's honest, maybe even brutally honest but I don't care for his vulgarities. However, I also realize that after a 30 year career in hospitals, I have no taste for blood, brutality or destroyed hearts - in any form. So, the fault, if there is a fault, is not in your insightful post but in the limits of my taste.

  4. very cool video and great song -- and, as usual, very cool commentary. Thank you, Cuban.

  5. I'm afraid that where this song is concerned, I'm in the "not for me" camp with lakeviewer & namastenancy. But then, I don't get on with angry reactions in general... it just makes me want to hide behind the sofa.

  6. For some reason I'd never heard this song. Nick's not my cup of tea but the way you went through his lyrics and dissected the song was so interesting to me.

    I was envisioning something more quiet and mournful but I wasn't surprised to see the rage either. Rejection does that to people.


  7. Though I appreciate how you deconstructed this song and Nick Cave's raw delivery of it, I have to put this melody in the same drawer as the Patty Smith post you did a bunch of months ago. Let's just say, it won't be spilling out of my iPod any time in the near future. Only two misses out of all the music I have enjoyed in this space - I think that's fantastic!

  8. Between what you review and what your creativity weaves..your talent wins out over the subject, much of the time...good.
    Anyway, I feel too aware of Cave's ego first, and then the music.

  9. Hmmm Nick Cave has never been a favorite of mine but I can hear the depth of his passion, thanks to your post. Before, it just sounded like a lot of grumbling to me.

  10. Just taking a few minutes of my lunchtime to let you know that this is one of the reasons why you make me so proud as a blogger. Almost everyone dislikes Nick's music and yet you put your arguments forward so respectfully. Many thanks. I'm under the influence of Chris Isaak's 'Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing' right now. Who knows? Maybe, I, too, did a naughty, naughty thing. :-)

    Greetings from London.

  11. Nick Cave is genius not only in his lyrics but musically as well. He has this ability to completely open his mind and let the words flow out raw. It is like you say, they are like a vine slithering up and around you. It wraps your heart and strangles the emotion from it. This song is one of my favorites of his. I actually can't choose a particular favorite because I like them all. This is.. however my favorite performance. It is a cover of "I Put A Spell On You"

  12. Hello. I know what that broken red heart symbolizes. It's your broken heart that your New York Yankees didn't sign Cliff Lee and my Philadelphia Phillies did. ¡Que lastima! Pobrecito. I feel your pain I am enjoying every moment. Halladay-Lee-Oswalt-Hamels: WHAT A STARTING ROTATION! They are in red pinstripes not Yanqui pinstripes. Let me know where to send the box of Kleenex :). OUCH!

  13. I enjoyed how you tied emotion to music. I wonder if lovers still write letters in the time of texts and email. I have saved my old letters, but I doubt my emails will be readable in the future. Love songs will last on iTunes.

    I wasn’t too fond of Nick Cave’s angry rant and I see lakeviewer and others had a similar reaction. Your words are more eloquent.

    My WIP is about unrequited love. Somehow the longing for a kiss is more touching than the kiss itself. When connections do happen, they mean more for the disconnections preceding it.

  14. There She Goes, My Beautiful World. One of my favourite songs. The lyrics are good, too - and very funny.

  15. Many thanks to you all for your kind comments.

    Greetings from London.

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