Some 21 years ago, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds recorded a sinister, brooding, manic, dark and occasionally intentionally laugh-out-loud LP called Murder Ballads. The album title gives it away somewhat in that all the songs dealt with sudden, brutal and violent death. The record, rightly, received all sorts of critical acclaim, with many highlighting just how Cave’s amazing stories were perfectly matched by the tunes that he and his band members had conjured up.
But for all that the record did contain some gruesome and almost unthinkable tales of wrongdoing, none of the songs were as shocking or audaciously jaw-dropping as this from 1984:-
Five minutes of music in which there are two deaths; the murder of a young child at the hands of her father and his subsequent suicide, both of which are deeply disturbing. Like Cave’s songs more than a decade later it was a tale in which the tune captured your ear perfectly but such was the sheer horror of the lyric that it was a difficult thing to say the song was enjoyable. Blister In The Sun it most certainly wasn’t.
It took me many years to understand and accept the concept of the murder ballad, mostly thanks to an increasing awareness and acknowledgement of the darker and more brooding side of the country/folk genres but back when I bought the sophomore album by Violent Femmes, I really should have initially dug a bit deeper into the lyric and tried to seek out the true meaning.
Country Death Song isn’t just about a psycho dad gone mad who commits an act of filicide. It’s a genuinely horrific and sad tale of a man, so racked with guilt at being unable to ensure the land he keeps can fend for his family, makes a decision that his daughter would be better off and happier living alongside angels in heavan that enduring a miserable existence on Earth. His love for her is such, that he’s willing to pay the price of himself being eternally damned in hell. Religious beliefs don’t often make sense to me. But all too often, people acting on them send shivers down my spine.
PS…..Here’s the anticipated schedule over the festive period:-
Saturday 23 December : Saturday’s Scottish Song #105
Sunday 24 December : The New Order Singles (Part 11)
Monday 25 December : A Xmas Day Song
Tuesday 26 December : A Boxing Day Song
Wed 27 – Fri 29 December : Three postings from the vaults
Saturday 30 December : Saturday’s Scottish Song #106
Sunday 31 December : The New Order Singles (Part 12)
Monday 1 January : 30,20,10
Tues 2 – Friday 5 January : Four postings from the vaults
Saturday 6 January : Saturday’s Scottish Song #107
Sunday 7 January : The New Order Singles (Part 13)
After which, nornal service should resume……