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Nick Cave – The Secret Life Of The Love Song & The Flesh Made Word: Two Lectures

The Secret Life Of The Love Song & The Flesh Made Word: Two Lectures By Nick Cave (2000)

A rare and fascinating release this. We’ve been looking for it for some time and our pal mrx kindly got it into our mitts today! Thanks again mrx!

I was lucky enough to catch Nick deliver his Secret Life Of The Love Song  show and perform some acoustic tracks in a small Dublin venue what must be about 10 years ago. It was a rare and unique performance, extremely different and extremely intimate, harking back to the raw autobiographical nature of his greatest LP The Boatman’s Call.

Here’s an opportunity to revisit that show via a specially recorded studio version interspersed with some wonderful sparse revisits of classic Cave tracks.

This CD is fantastic. Amazing not only in how good it is, but even the mere fact that it exists. How many artists would release a CD like this?

The title lecture  The Secret Life Of The Love Song features Nick waxing philosophically and lyrically on the love song, it’s meaning, purpose, and relevance, it’s role in his career – on through an exploration of the critical role of sadness within the true love song and the intense power of this sadness, what’s known by the Portuguese as “duende” and what’s a fundamental element in powerfuly raw Irish traditional “Sean Nos” music.

Cave’s speech is laced with commentary on his own works and surprisingly raw autobiographical ancedotes that any Cave fan will love.

This piece also features 5 wonderful musical interludes.

Starting with the wonderful West Country Girl – with a considerably different arrangement; a good version of People Ain’t No Good; a totally new take on a classic Sad Waters;  Love Letter, subsequently released on No More Shall We Part, but new at the time; and the powerful  Far From Me, the origin of which is expounded upon by Cave.

The second piece – The Word Made Flesh – is a wonderful 17 minute spoken word piece recorded for the Beeb in which Cave talks about The Bible and how it has hugely influenced his life and his writing. Lots more revealing autobiograpohical stuff here too.

This is a must have for any Cave fan.

A wonderfully unique work and immensely enjoyable to listen to.

Not often you hear an espousal of erotographomania on stage these days!

And, you really ain’t heard nothing til you’ve heard Nick quoting Boney-M and analysing a Kylie Minogue pop classic!  

Some more info below:

The Secret Life of the Love Song is Nick’s highly original take on his personal artistic muse, and on the genre as a whole.

Originally conceived for the Vienna Poetry Festival (1998) and performed to great success and a capacity audience at The Royal Festival Hall, London in 1999, this is a special studio recording.

It includes five new and unique interpretations of the Cave songs ‘West Country Girl’, ‘People Ain’t no Good’, ‘Sad Waters’, ‘Love Letter’, and ‘Far From Me’.

The Word Made Flesh is a wholly spoken-word piece, re-recorded, originally conceived and executed for the BBC Religious Services Department in 1996.

 Like any good, or wayward, biblical scholar, perennial penitent Nick Cave knows that the sins of the father are destined to be replayed by the son. History does not record if Cave senior, an English lecturer, led an early life of wild excess and debauchery but, as he approaches middle age, Cave the younger acknowledges that everything he does brings him a step closer to his dear, departed daddy.

Originally delivered at the Vienna Poetry Festival in 1998, ‘The Secret Life Of The Love Song’ is a droll, imaginative appraisal of the form that has most inspired him in recent years. Its frame of reference includes the poets Lorca and Auden, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, as well as Kylie Minogue and Boney M. We may prefer our artists to be slavering inadequates, barely sentient fruitcakes, but both ‘The Secret Life…’ and ‘The Flesh Made Word’ (originally broadcast on Radio 3) are a reminder that sometimes the most impassioned artist can be an acerbic and penetrating critic. In his early solo career Cave was often enraged by critical assessments of his work and these lectures, joining such King Mob cultural landmarks as Ken Kesey, the Black Panthers and, er, Stewart Home, are a deliciously savoured and valuable type of revenge.

But Cave also delivers unerringly emotive rerecordings of his most exquisitely realised compositions (‘West Country Girl’, ‘Sad Waters’ and ‘Far From Me’). Balm for those who think it’s not so good to talk and magnificent examples of what he calls “my sad, gloomy-eyed children”. Long may he tend to their needs, by whatever means may be necessary.

8 out of 10

– NME 


Since I have become a Nick Cave fan and have evangelized his music to friends and acquaintances, I’ve been frequently asked why his music is so dark and brooding. Well, now here I’ve found some answers and you can too.Since I have become a Nick Cave fan and have evangelized his music to friends and acquaintances, I’ve been frequently asked why his music is so dark and brooding. Well, now here I’ve found some answers and you can too.

In Cave’s first lecture, he explains the concepts of “saudade” and “duende” and puts forth the proposition that a love song is not a true love song unless it contains elements of these concepts. Then he goes on to explain why this is so. His lecture is interspersed with his playing of five examples of love songs he has written that are steeped in saudade and duende.

In the course of his talk, he also mentions other musicians like Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and others whose writings betray a deep understanding of those concepts.

In the second lecture, Cave speaks of how the Bible came to influence his writing after the death of his father who had inspired him to write. Songs from his earlier band Birthday Party and early Bad Seeds are informed by the Old Testament and filled with “bile and puke”, but also with the beauty of the Psalms. Later Cave songs have been inspired by the Gospels and show a new and brighter view of life and love. He talks a bit about God and his view of humanity’s connection to the divine. Lest this scare anyone off, I should add that his talk is exploratory and explanatory, not preachy in a Jesus freak sort of way.

I learned quite a bit by listening to this fine CD and have come to understand the music of Nick Cave to the point to where I can explain it to others. Cave has a good speaking voice and a manner which makes interesting what he has to say. I find The Secret Life of the Love Song & The Flesh Made Word to be thoroughly edifying and enjoyable. I recommend it highly not just to hard-core Nick Cave fans, but to anyone who has an interest in writing.

-Kurt Harding

Here be Nicky;


thanks mrx


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March 19, 2009 - Posted by | Nick Cave, _ART, _MUSIC, _SPOKEN WORD

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