Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Murder Ballads: 1. Song of Joy

After much stalling, nail biting, and procrastinating The Murder Ballads project finally begins!  I plan to cover every song on Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' classic album, Murder Ballads.  Enjoy.

Have mercy on me sir
Allow me to impose on you
I have no place to say
And my bones are cold right through

I'm a big fan of story songs; ballads that tell a tale.  Which is one thing I love about Nick Cave; he's a expert storyteller.  This song, and the album are perfect examples of that.

In "Song of Joy", the lyrics and music come together to create a vivid picture. When I listen to it, I can feel the cold, see the stranger on the porch, his features barely visible in the dim light.  Listen to the stranger's story of love, loss and brutality.  Listen as Nick Cave talk-sings, as the menace in his voice and the music, slowly, painfully build to the last line:

 Do you sir have a room?
Are you beckoning me in?

When I first heard this song, I thought of the case of Jeffrey MacDonald, an Army doctor who was convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and two daughters. Maybe it was because of the line "I was visiting a sick friend/I was a doctor then" and the line about the killer writing on the walls in "the victims' blood". Granted "pig" wasn't exactly "quoting John Milton", but still. (McGinnis, Joe. Fatal Vision)

MacDonald blamed the murders on a "hippie cult", but the jury didn't buy it and convicted him.  He continues to profess his innocence.  (Link)

Nick Cave's killer of course roams free, and might be ready to kill again.  So are ya beckoning him in?

Hit it.


  1. So I'm not the only one who had a bit of McDonald flashback upon first listening to that song...

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  3. Ugh I can't spell tonight. What I meant to say was, I saw the TV movie when I was younger, and it always stuck with me.