Friday, May 11, 2012


I was not an early adapter or fan of Nick Cave. I wouldn't even call myself a fan now. I resisted him for a very long time too!

Sounds odd I know.

I knew a few people that were seriously into Nick - overly obsessed, so much so that most other music was shut out. I couldn't understand that sort of behaviour, still don't - there is so much rich music in the world. I didn't want a part of something sooo intense that it negated everything else.

Of course I knew songs, knew him etc and eventually was drawn to him myself. But on my own terms, in my own way.

I remember being out in a club - who can remember where - and Red Right Hand was playing. It's hypnotic trance lured me in and that was the end of my resistance. I have other tunes I love more, but it will always get me going...more on it later. 

So I started with a best of CD and then purchased albums based on songs I liked from the most. I do not profess to know a lot about him or his music, except to say I do enjoy it and have a mild fascination with him as an interesting male singer. He is dark, broody and rather cranky - why so cranky Nick - is it a put on, or for real? He is very sexy, and obviously highly intelligent...which makes him even more appealing! But he also seems to have a decent sense of humour just don't see it that often.

So yes, I am ashamed to say it took a while to get me to Nick. But I am here now, I love his deep lyrics, and the richness of his voice, the intensity and the bueauty of what I am hearing.

It is incredibly hard to pick which songs, and looking back there are others I could have added, but I like these choices.

It's slow, hypnotic rhythm reels you in, slowly and surely. Nick at his sexiest, scariest and meanest! Favourite lyrics: "He's a ghost, he's a god, he's a man, he's a guru." and "You're one microscopic cog in his catastrophic plan."

TRACK EIGHTEEN: Into my arms
A melancholy ballad, one even Nick says he is proud of writing. And why wouldn't you, it is stunning. His deep, strong voice against the piano - what else do you need. It is devastating and haunting, sad and uplifting. Favourite lyric: "And I don't believe in the existence of angels, but looking at you I wonder if that's true." Wow, imagine someone writing that about you...

If Into my arms is beautiful, there are no words to describe The Ship Song. It is beyond perfection and always gives me shivers and brings a tear to my eye. It is an epic song that just hits the right notes - literally and figuratively. The Strings soar and Nick has never sounded more fragile and gorgeous. Favourite lyric: every single word, but I do especially like, "We make a little history baby, every time you come around." Sigh...we've all been there...

Oh, and the video is perfection too...what gorgeous little girls...

TRACK TWENTY: Breathless
This is probably my favourite song, it's an absolute delight. It's uplifting, catchy, and insanely happy for Nick. I adore it's joy - pure and simple. Great flute riff and a sweet, clear guitar tone. His phrasing and lyrics are sublime: gambolling lambs, bubbling brook, red-breasted robin, fishes, bluebells, foxes and rabbits, oh my!! And still your hands, still your heart, still your mind, still your soul...gorgeous. And the clip shows his joy and sense of humour, love it!
When I first heard this, I played it over and over. I do not think I will ever tire of it.


Before I write about Johnny Cash, I need to write a little about country music.
I think my grandfather played a lot of it, I say think, because there are songs that feel like home to me and he would be the only culprit. And I just don't remember.
I am pretty sure he played Johnny, I can see how he would have loved him.
Despite that, I would have said I was not a fan of country at all (one of the few genres of music I would wipe completely).
I have only admitted to loving country in the past decade...but let's get this straight, cool/edgy country...ok some daggy stuff too! When I look back, of course I have always loved it.
I grew up with Glen Campbell and Kenny Rogers at home. I loved Dolly - who doesn't? I adore Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson.
And when you listen to bands like Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Creedance Clearwater Revival, Neil Young, Linda Ronstadt, The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Paul Kelly, Elvis Presley and Bonnie Raitt as I did and still do, you know they have a little country in their backbones.
Then there is the new wave of 'alternative' country stars - The Waifs, Kasey Chambers, Norah Jones and the Little Willies, Dixie Chicks, Tex Perkins, Alison Krauss and Steve Earle (not so new).
Even Bob Dylan, Olivia Newton John and Elvis Costello have had their country periods. Most folk and blues singers have country in them somewhere, and rock came from there...
It's funny how you judge something and not even realise you are judging yourself! Maybe it wasn't cool to like country, but you get to an age where cool just doesn't cut it anymore, you need to own what you like...and I like (NO LOVE) Country...ok not all of it, but a huge enough chunk!
And as every good country music lover knows, the king is Johnny Cash. He is country, he is cool, he means business, he's lived those lives he is singing about. And anyone who wears all black is all right with me!
I remember discovering he sung Jackson with June.
Wasn't that the duet INXS did with Jenny Morris at the Countdown awards many moons ago??? I LOVED that song, well Johnny's is far cooler (sorry Michael) cause you know he meant it!!!
I wasn't a huge fan, I knew a lot of his music and listened to it occasionally.
Then I got my hands on the American Recordings Albums, his 'comeback' albums with Rick Rubin. Comeback being a bizarre term to use - he never really went away!!! His interpretations were amazing, humbling and often raw (that's how we like Johnny...raw...well, I do anyway!)

Most especially his version of Hurt, formerly sung by Nine Inch Nails. It was beyond powerful - and that was before you saw the clip. You knew he was sick, but how sick I do not think anyone really knew. Trent Reznor has gone on the record as saying Hurt "that song isn't mine anymore" which shows how powerful Johnny's version is.
Then wherever you went Johnny was there - in magazines, on charts, in record stores, and a movie coming out about him.
He was a star...again...still.
And like that, he was gone, 2003, almost ten years now, but it feels like yesterday.
I went to see Walk the line with high expectations - they were met and exceeded...a very rare thing indeed. I learnt even more about Johnny Cash, the man. Some of it was not pleasant, some of it just devastating, but mostly you just admired him, his talent and his perseverance. And that love he had for June - wow he had it bad!
Johnny Cash is the man, every song a gem and hard to pick which ones I like the best.
From the beginning the horn section starts, it drags you in. The intensity of his voice, the twang of the guitar and that sharp brass sound - wow! The lyrics match the song, they tell the story of Johnny and June's love and the craziness of it all. A great song.

TRACK FIFTEEN: Folsom Prison Blues
A classic track indeed, starting with the famous "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash" - as if we didn't know. It's that nod and wink to a small joke. Folsom Prison Blues, whilst tough subject matter, really has this tongue in cheek vibe to it. I love it. great guitar playing, and the rhythm matches that train coming down the track. It's that toe taping beat that makes us enjoy his performance. Check out how he holds his guitar and indeed himself! Oh and those deep, deep notes, and the way he tilts his head for the extra air to get down that low.

Classic duet, sung by many over the years, but Johnny and June make it their own. So much so, you would have thought they wrote it about themselves. And it features a favourite line of mine: "Goodbye, that's all she wrote." I use it a lot!!

And while I didn't include this in my compilation, I will include the video here, it is something else: HURT.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012



I think The Cars are underrated these days. I love their stuff. They were early 'new wave'. Great pop/rock sensibilities, 2 lead singers and a lot of great songs.

TRACK ELEVEN: Just what I needed

Their first big hit and a big fav of mine. Starts like a good pop song, but builds towards rock with a thrashy kind of guitar!

This is clip from Live Aid - amazing!


It's as plastic pop as they come, but a lot of fun. Loved this as a kid, lot's of dancing and shaking...

Great clip- featuring Ric Ocesek on vocals and enjoying himself at the end!


Drive is a classic 80s power ballad, their biggest hit. Vocals back to Benjamin Orr, their bassist - he did the yearning ballads better!

Written by Ocasek, the iconic monochrome video was directed by Timothy Hutton and featured the haunting Paulina Porizkova. She was 19 and went on to marry Ric.



I grew up with Glen Campbell and have always loved him. He is the best kind of country...melodic and smooth. Jimmy Webb, who wrote most of his songs, is a genius. I have gotten grief about my love of Glen, but I don't care. He is great to sing along to, a little melancholy, a little uplifting.

TRACK EIGHT: Rhinestone Cowboy

What a grand song!

Great lyrics, smooth vocals, solid rhythm.

"but, I'm going to be where the lights are shining on me"

Fabulous for Karaoke...not that I'd know...much...

TRACK NINE: Galveston

A Jimmy Webb classic. The rich timbre of Campbell's voice really suits this.
I love the clip too, understated and simple - much like the song.

TRACK TEN: Wichita Lineman

This is classic Jimmy Webb: the yearning and melancholy, the light strings, the deep guitar and great lyrics. When Jimmy sings it is a bit more 'damaged'.

"And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time"
Oh my, we all know *that* feeling...

REM have also done a great cover of this which I will include further below, Stipe's voice realy suits Webb.



TRACK SIX: Short Skirt/Long Jacket

I like Cake, but love this song a lot, it's just catchy and quirky and always lifts my spirits when I hear it. Not much more to say on this one.

The video is pretty funny too.


I listened to Caligula a lot when I was younger, they only had a couple of albums, early 90s, Australian band. A mix of styles, they never really hit it big.


I danced a lot to this, and whilst it is a bit tinny, it still takes me back. I think I saw them at The Cambridge...sounds about right!

When you watch the filmclip you can see how very (bad) 90s it was!