Nick Cave fans are intense, and I am a relative newbie. Writing this is actually terrifying because I know I am out of my depth. But Cave has been so important to the last 7 or 8 months of my life that I’m just going to… do it. And then I’m probably going to regret writing this before I see him tonight at the Sony Centre.
I don’t think I’ve ever come across an artist I loved so immediately as Nick Cave. When the person who first introduced me to Cave gave me a mix CD of his favourite songs, I couldn’t have predicted how much it would resonate.
I’m forced to consider how much significance is attached to who gave me this music for the first time. Fittingly, it was a person with whom I was in a sort-of relationship that could be best described as “dramatic.” We fell into each other hard. We told each other we felt we were always supposed to meet. The “L-bomb” was dropped way too early. There were half-jokes about marriage within weeks. Fuck, we got tattoos together. And then one day, we began to drift. Things slowed down. And over the course of a few uncertain weeks, it was over.
It was during those weeks that I found this specific song from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ 1994 album Let Love In. I waited and wondered and deep down, I knew — like Cave does when he wails it out — that the love, ultimately, wasn’t going to return. It wasn’t coming back. We were doomed from the start.
From the moment that menacing bass line starts creeping in, the whole song is a build. Like a tumultuous love affair, it ebbs and flows, it whips you around, it disorients you.
Cave describes falling in love so desperately and violently with someone who is unreal: “our love lines grew hopelessly tangled.” This person he loves? She’s magical, she’s enormous, she is a religion: he finds “god and all his devils inside her.” This is falling in love (and making love) at its most terrifying. Its most all-encompassing. And as it grows increasingly frenzied and bewildered, it’s followed by that love’s destruction: “I really try, but I just err, I do, I err”… and then he apologizes. There’s the sexual, violent imagery of the “blood running down the inside of her legs” — the CRUSHING sound of those fucking chapel bells JINGLING and JANGLING.
And finally, that admission: “All things move toward their end, I knew before I met her that I would lose her.” It was always too big. It was always a dream. It was never sustainable. Nothing can survive under that weight: you fall on your knees, your arms up at the sky, a prayer for some kind of certainty, some ANSWER… begging while the heavens crash down around you.
Sometimes you hear music that you feel strongly about on so many levels that you want more than to just listen to it. You want to incorporate it into yourself somehow. You want to become it. Let it go right through you and grab you and feel like gigantic, crushing, impossible love. So go ahead – let love in with “DO YOU LOVE ME” from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.