A gray day in September. Nowhere to go, nothing to do. A stark melancholy races on the winds of a distant nor’easter. It is a perfect day for The Boatman’s Call.
I have to admit up front that I found out about Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds from the Shrek movies. The soundtrack crew from the first two movies did their homework exceptionally well, tapping some truly desultory, lugubrious tunes from artists who don’t make the top twenty. I was so taken by “People Ain’t No Good” that as soon as I could afford it I purchased the album (The Boatman’s Call, not Shrek II). The album begins with the line “I don’t believe in an interventionist God, but I know darling that you do . . .” Throughout the album the achingly sacred and profoundly profane are blended in an eerily subdued way. The music is haunting and thought-provoking. Almost each track on the album has a biblical reference, but these references are mixed with what would be crude if handled with any less artistry.
All that I know about Nick Cave is what I’ve read on Wikipedia, but it is clear that he is well versed in the Bible and makes effective, if dark, use of religious imagery. Perhaps the reason I admire this album so much is that Cave’s ambivalence toward religious structures is so honest. He isn’t out to convert anyone, nor is he willing to let go of his religion. The religion that wafts out of the drafty attic of this disc mirrors the complexity that faith ought to possess. Especially on a dark and rainy autumn day.