Nick Cave's 'Ghosteen' - A Lesson for the Brokenhearted
Updated: Nov 11, 2019
It's five o'clock in the morning of October 4th. The sun is still hiding behind earth as my eyes awoke in a sudden notion. I plug the headphones to my ears and go on to YouTube live streaming of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds new album 'Ghosteen'.
The room's walls are still wearing deep dark blue shade, as my cats' silhouette is drawn upon the window of our bedroom.
The cover image of the album appears on the screen. It's an image I think took most of cave's fans by surprise. A fairytale painting of a magical forest, with a white horse at its center, green trees and flowers blossom, and a beam of sun that breaks through it all.
Not quite the image a former post punk, hardcore rock n roller as Nick Cave is ever expected to choose for his album. Nor it's an image one or all of the above fan would ever think to have for one of their favorite rock bands.
Then a welcoming phrase followed by a list of eight songs that consist the first part of the album, and three more songs of the second part (two pieces linked by a spoken word).
The first part is the children, the second is the parents. Ghosteen is a migrating spirit.
First sound appears along with pink, purple smoky clouds that dances on my iPhones screen. It's a spinning sound, cut by an electric note that reveals the name of the song, in between the clouds, in a white neon glow the writing says it's 'The Spinning Song', about the king of rock n' roll and the spinning nature of life, ending with an angelic yearning call for peace to come. The image that comes to my mind is Vladimir Taltins monument with its strong structure yet light and airy movement towards the sky.
Following, is 'Bright Horses' that reveals the cruel nature of life but in a very non-cruel way. It's a painful acceptance of our worlds' darkest side but with the knowledge and deep understanding of the light this shadow brings with it. I think it's the most optimistic song on this album.
I'm carefully listening to what reveals itself as an ambient, one to two note bluesy at its core songs played by electronic devices, conducted by the great Warren Ellis. The tempo is slow and there's no drums throughout the album.
Passing the enchanting, sorrowful children part, I'm now at the second part of the album, the parents, at 'Ghosteen' song.
Like few songs on this album, it consists of two parts.,and what begins with a glory of beautiful chanting by Nick, accompanied by a rising melody from violins (at times synthesized to the point of a somewhat Arabic sound) with the playfulness of Ghosteen free spirit in Nick' hand, a sort of heaven if you like, turns towards its ending to a sorrowful and quiet song, with the sudden heartbreaking 'Here we go' and a long siren, as if to announce of the upcoming feeling of grief that goes along with every joyful moment Nick, or yourself, allows himself to have. The last phrases of the song welcomes us into Nick and Susie's darkest hours, and at one point I feel as if this too much, this is too intimate, I can almost feel every cell of grief in Susie's blood, and how it spreads in her gentle veins.
It actually makes me feel uncomfortable to be that much involved, yet unconsciously it get into the depths of my own sorrow that I never knew to exist.
From there Nicks' deep voice takes us deeper to a magical and frighting mode that leads to 'Hollywood', the last song of the album, I have yet to decide if the best one, but most surttenly a three parts masterpiece.
The songs' intro is the melody that follows through the rest of it. I can compare it to the gentle sound of a plains' engine floating through the night air above the Atlantic Sea in which Nick's sitting on his way to Malibu, as the songs' lyrics tells us.
The first lines tells us about the fires that continues to burns, and I'm reminded of Susie's Instagram post of LA fires last summer. It gives the song the immediate golden, orange scarlet tone and a smokey texture. Throughout the album, there's a surreal touch to the lyrics and so does here, after the songs' shifts to its second part with a tad of a beat, that ends up with an image of a kid climbing from the shore to the sun (it varies from the moon to sun in few occasions in the albums, and seems that each has a different goal to project a feeling. The moon in calm, sad heaven, while the sun is bright yet furious and hellish).
'And I'm just waiting now for peace to come', Nick's calling into a black hole.
Then we go into the songs' third part, with an intro of its own, followed by the Buddhist story of Kira, sang to us in Nicks' high and cracking voice. The story tells of Kira who lost her baby to the hands of death, but could not comprehend it, so she goes to Buddha who calms her down asking her to collect a mastered seed from a house where no one died in order to bring her baby back to life. She then goes to the villagers, from house to house asking for a mastered seed, only to understand there is no house where no one died.
'Everybody's losing someone' is the moral of this story.
And Nick's finishes up with his wish from the first song: 'It's a long way to find peace of mind' he tells us in his gentle voice.
'And I'm just waiting now for my time to come'... What might sound like a longing for a his soul to rest in peace is just his longing to come in peace with his own lost.
Slowly, the sun came out of her hide, turning our room from its deep dark blue into warm grey. The cats' silhouette is now a creature in its slumber, my wife beside me in her own deep sleep, and I'm taken over with a mediative yet awakening atmosphere as I pull out the headphones with a confused heart.
Not sure what I'm feeling for this album, like meeting the love of your life and not being aware that you're falling involve.
One think was very clear to me. The album is not just Nick's albums, but Susie's presents and aesthetics has taken over it with her graceful touch that turns everything into a glorious mist.
Together with the cover, Nick, Susie and Warren teaches us a lesson in Neue Gothica, and may I say, Neue Surrealism. It's a Gothica made by those who are in such deep sorrow that the only creation can come out, is a bright, enchanting forest that offers endless love.
It takes me few more listenings to understand the arrow's wound that just stroke my heart. Connected to this feeling I'm carrying with me for a while now, of this sadness that comes with the deep appreciation of life's duality, and the very reason that I, who wore black throughout most of her grown up life, can't seem to do it any longer, as if a black T-Shirt is a huge black hole. Yet watching nature do it, seeing my satin black cats' fur shines in the blue sunlight, is one of the greatest things to endure.
It seems to me Nick can no longer practice the stories of murders, hockers and drug addicts, is he is no longer any of those, yet he's all of them together. He became a main character of a glamorous and sad nightmare that the only way to crawl out of its deep sleep is to become one with it and let the light in in order to wake up.
I think it takes a brave and uncompromising heart to release such an honest, surreal and feminine creation, after being one of Rock n' Roll biggest stars over the past 30 years so.
I can only imagine Nick and the bad seeds lost few fans over this, but gained many faithful once and a place with the very top musicians this world will remember.
In search for peace, it seems as if Nick's unwilling to stop working.
After releasing the new album, while still in his Conversations Tour, an announcement of a European tour has released last week, beginning at Lisbon on April 2020, ending at Tel-Aviv on July.
Got myself a ticket. I'm gonna be there on the first row, absorbing it all.