Author Topic: Bible Studies  (Read 16647 times)

Adam

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Bible Studies
« on: October 07, 2005, 05:55:59 PM »
When I was mucking about with various lyrics yesterday I was struck by how much Dave drew from the bible, either in direct reference to specific incidents 'reported' in the new testament or in use of general biblical imagery.  There were several outbreaks in 'Baby can I walk you home' for example, especially in the last verse, but then it occurred to me that it had been going on for some time by then.  References to a 'fisher of men' somewhere on the 'Field of glass' 12" for example (I can't remember where right now).

This strikes me as odd in someone who was raised by scientists.  I suppose Cave is the same - his parents were teachers weren't they?  Something in the water down there?

Graham, do you know where this interest comes from?  Was Dave an enthusiastic reader of the bible?  I can see how it might be a rich source of inspiration for the writer given to use of imagery and analogy.   I suppose it could just as easily have come from an enthusiasm for the literature of the deep south - Faulkner, O'Connor etc. - but, I guess, I was wondering how deep his interest ran.

Offline Urpal

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Re: Bible Studies
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2005, 08:00:13 PM »
What interests me particularly is that both Nick & Dave are protestant boys, but seem to have what you might describe as specifically Catholic sensibilities in a lot of their biblical borrowings - holy water, the confessional, the matriarchal/divine feminine, iconography, guilt, ritual etc.

Which gives me the opportunity to post another favourite lyric, some of which should really only be significant to someone with an RC upbringing:


Well ah jumpt! and fled this fucken heap on doctored wings
Mah flailin pinions, with splints and rags and crutches!
(damn things nearly hardly flap)
Canker upon canker upon one million tiny punctures
That look like...
Long thin red ribbons draped across the arms of a lil mortal girl
(like a ground -plan of hell)
Curse these smartin strings! these fucken ruptures!
Enough! enough is enough!
(if this is heaven ahm bailin out)
If this is heaven ahm bailin out
Ah caint tolerate this ol tin-tub
So fulla trash and rats! felt one crawl across mah soul
For a seckon there , as thought as wassa back down in the ghetto!
(rats in paradise! rats in paradise!)
Ahm bailin out! theres a mutiny in heaven!

Ah wassa born...
And lord shakin, even then was dumpt into some icy font,
Like some great stinky unclean!
From slum-chuch to slum-church, ah spilt mah heart
To some fat cunt behind a screen...

Evil poppin eye presst up to the opening
Hed slide shut the lil perforated hatch...at night mah body
Blusht
To the whistle of the birch
With a lil practice ah soon learnt to use in on mahself
Punishment? ! reward!! punishment? ! reward!!
Well, ah tied on...percht on mah bed ah was...
Sticken a needle in mah arm...

Ah tied off! fucken wings burst out mah back
(like ah was cuttin teeth!!)
Ah took off!!!
(rats in paradise! rats in paradise!)
Theres a mutiny in heaven!

Oh lord, ah git down on mah knees
(ah git down on mah knees and start to pray)

Wrapped in mah mongrel wings, ah nearly freeze
In the howlin wind and drivin rain
(all the trash blowin round n round)
From slum-heaven into town
Ah take mah tiny pain and rollin back mah sleeve
(roll anna roll anna roll anna roll)
Ah yank the drip outa mah vein! utopiate! ahm bailin out!
Utopiate!
If this is heaven ahm bailin out!
Mah threadbare soul teems with vermin and louse
Thoughts come like a plague to the head...in gods house!
Mutiny in heaven!
(ars infectio forco dio)
To the plank!
(rats in paradise! rats in paradise!)
Ahm bailin out!
(hail hypuss dermio vita rex!)
Hole inna ghetto! hole inna ghetto!
(scabio murem per sanctum...dio, dio, dio)

I haven't checked the borrowed online transcription for errors, but another work of genius pensmanship if you ask me. The hallucinogenics of the drug trip mixed in with the religious experiences and images of youth blended in a shocking and enigmatic mix.

I expect that part of the reason is that they both went to denominational high schools and this is the place from which much of there educational influence as well as musical development sprang (and probably fought, socialised and sympathised with the Catholic schoolkids next door or something).
« Last Edit: October 07, 2005, 08:20:24 PM by Urpal »
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Offline Cassiel

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Re: Bible Studies
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2005, 09:42:31 PM »
Interesting point Adam. I know very little about David's upbringing, but Cave has often spoke about he spent years reading the bible, first as research for 'And the Ass...' but then for fun. He's a King James version guy; none of the modern stuff. He's pretty Old Testament too; thunderbolts, mercy seats, ark of covenants, and the lyric Urpal has reprinted above confirms that. Dave, I would argue, is a bit more New Testament in outlook; more songs about cleansing, redemption, God as spiritual nourishment rather than the vengeful issuer of justice he appears as in many of Nick's songs. Love of Will is drenched in this (Lifelike, Leaning, Day of My Ascension), but then how much that was down to his worsening health and death's hand on his shoulder?
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mtrain

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Re: Bible Studies
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2005, 10:32:56 PM »
The imagery may be more upfront on "Love of Will" but it seems like it has been there all along. I agree with your new/old testament proposition wholeheartedly though. Death's hand is on all of our shoulders, just has a tighter grip on some. I need more caffeine before I contemplate such weighty topics this morning.... 

Offline Urpal

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Re: Bible Studies
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2007, 01:42:01 AM »
Is there a thread discussing DMC:s spiritual/religious/Christian side? The theme is everywhere, and of course all over Love of Will. If not I'm looking forward to being enlightened here, thanks.
Hmmm, I don't know what to say about that. In one of his letters to me, for example, he says something like 'who knows, I might convert you.' But the religious imagery in some of the songs seems to have been a passing thing inspired by Flannery O'Connor. ...

... once I told him that I was a believer in reincarnation (not seriously, I was really just toying with him because he so often had goes at me for my atheism). Anyway, he looked at me like I was an idiot and said something to the effect of, 'when you're dead, that's it, this is all there is.' Since he was so much of a contrarian, it might perhaps be going too far to say that that's the position he took all his life. However he certainly seemed deadly serious.

Graham, did you ever have deep and meaningfuls with Dave about religion and/or philosophy? If so, what conclusions did you draw about his personal beliefs?

That's interesting, jimjam, as it suggests that Dave had the same equivocality about religious belief as many of us.

I was thinking about religion and Dave's lyrics in a general way the other day. There are a number of songs where religion is clearly an issue (Jesus Calling, Convent Walls, large chunks of Love of Will), although mostly in a context which leaves bags of room for secondary or underlying non-religious meanings. However, it seems to me that Dave was predominantly a "naturalistic writer" and the grander themes from his writings arise from natural settings and real environments (Too Hot, New Years Greetings, Wide Open Road etc etc) in which the "sky is big and empty".

However, I feel that the lyrics remain in a secular/non-religious sense spiritual. And by this I mean that they have an evocative impact which places you "in the moment" of those transitory experiences in our lives where we experience an enhanced or deranged sensation about life which is "other worldly" and in which we, in a non-specific way, sense something bigger in the dimensions of life than the routine mundanity that makes up most of it. I hope you know what I mean and I'm not sounding mad here....

Anyway, that's about it. Nick Cave always writ larger in a more directly religious context, although in a way which is exaggerrated to the pojnt of vaudevillian and therefore suggestive as much of lampooning as respect. I read an interview recently which suggested he might be toning down that aspect of his writing in future. Then the name of the new Bad Seeds album was circulated and it's called Dig, Lazarus, Dig :o.....so I'll say no more....

I would have thought that any writer who wants to be taken seriously as an artist has to approach/confront the "big issues" which concern us and the human condition, and life/death, love/hate, religion/atheism covers most bases and interrelated in the conundrum.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2007, 02:02:13 AM by Urpal »
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Offline jimjamtwo

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Re: Bible Studies
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2007, 01:58:15 AM »
Maybe we'll all need our Bibles soon - life is about to get a whole lot stranger:

What is this thing?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iusq6j8cG1o&feature=related
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He had every known disease you can contract in the back of a car.

Offline Urpal

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Re: Bible Studies
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2007, 02:43:21 AM »
I assumed that must be a wind-up (it probably is), but it does show up if you do your own Google map search over Greenland as I did a couple of minutes ago (see the screenshot).

A rational suggestion would be that it's down to gaps in the jigsaw of satellite pics that make up Google's image of earth.

Other suggestions might include Santa's sleigh gearing up for Christmas or George Lucas latest post-Star Wars project to build a giant digital cinema projector and screen on which to blast his latest digital film epic in ultrawidewraparound3Davision (TM) with Superduperparasonic (TM) sound.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2007, 02:51:58 AM by Urpal »
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Offline Bro

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Re: Bible Studies
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2007, 09:00:40 AM »
Thanks to the Dame founding the thread and to people contributing on the matter. I think it's a central one, so please keep it up if you can contribute. Urpal thought that "spiritual" was perhaps a better word than "religious" or "Christian" and I can agree with that (not difficult since that was one of my suggestions from the start) and in fact that is the exact word I tend to use myself. The spirituality of DMC, in my opinion, resembles the one of i.e. Graham Greene, a Protestant turned Catholic for practical reasons and therefore holding a special perspective.

I find the point made about Catholic symbolism a very good one. A simple answer might be that writers look for symbols, and Protestans are not much into that compared to Catholics. Also, Catholics might be marginally more into the OT because of the worship of saints/patriarchs. Just off the cuff.


Offline jimjamtwo

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Re: Bible Studies
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2007, 11:39:12 AM »
A rational suggestion would be that it's down to gaps in the jigsaw of satellite pics that make up Google's image of earth.
I thought of that initially, but it does seem to be an object that can be seen through ice. So this might account for the smaller black bar, but not the large orange-yellow object.
St Francis died on his knees in a gaudy downtown bar
He had every known disease you can contract in the back of a car.

Offline Kieren

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Re: Bible Studies
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2007, 03:57:44 PM »
Urpal and Dame Barbara Cartland

I LOVE YOUR POSTS!!!! The both of you should take up writing as a profession!!!

Frankly I have always been disturbed by the biblical references in the Triffids/DMC songs.  Don't get me wrong - I like them dispite these references - but there is always a background voice in my mind which says - "surely you are not doing this with a straight face".  Nick Cave - its clearly not a straight face.  DMC - I'm not so sure.  Clearly it's an "outsiders" view (and of course I've noted Glee's comments) but I've always been uncomfortable with this. 

Offline Urpal

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Re: Bible Studies
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2007, 05:42:01 PM »
I know what you mean. When I first heard some songs on Love of Will I thought quite a few of the songs were overtly religious, and specifically Christian, in content in a way which I hadn't encountered in any other modern music I'd listened to - and the combined effect of predominently American evangelical christian pop and Cliff Richard give good cause for making this a troubling experience.

On the other hand, Mozart and other classical musicians dwelt long and hard on religious themes and we don't find this alarming.

Similarly Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen's music has always had a distinctly religious undertow which is non-combative.

There is an element of secularised "political correctness" in this discomfort which actually makes it radical in a punk way to use religious themes these days.

Love Of Will carries it off. There is no preachiness in it. The religious themes are contemplative and thought-provoking.

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Offline Urpal

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Re: Bible Studies
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2007, 07:47:50 PM »
I read an interview recently which suggested he might be toning down that aspect of his writing in future. Then the name of the new Bad Seeds album was circulated and it's called Dig, Lazarus, Dig :o.....so I'll say no more....

I notice that in the press announcement for the new single taken from the album of the same name Nick hath spoken thus on what the song's about:

Quote
Nick Cave on DIG, LAZARUS, DIG!!!
"Ever since I can remember hearing the Lazarus story, when I was a kid, you know, back in church, I was disturbed and worried by it. Traumatized, actually. We are all, of course, in awe of the greatest of Christ's miracles - raising a man from the dead - but I couldn't help but wonder how Lazarus felt about it. As a child it gave me the creeps, to be honest. I've taken Lazarus and stuck him in New York City, in order to give the song, a hip, contemporary feel. I was also thinking about Harry Houdini who spent a lot of his life trying to debunk the spiritualists who were cashing in on the bereaved. He believed there was nothing going on beyond the grave. He was the second greatest escapologist, Harry was, Lazarus, of course, being the greatest. I wanted to create a kind of vehicle, a medium, for Houdini to speak to us if he so desires, you know, from beyond the grave. Sometimes, late at night, if you listen to the song hard enough, you can hear his voice and the sad clanking of his chains.

"I don't know what it is but there is definitely something going on upstairs", he seems to be saying. It is, most of all, an elegy to the New York City of the 70's."

Sounds promising. Is the final sentence suggestive of a move in a Suicidal direction perhaps? Or has Nick donned a white suit and black shirt and headed dee-aye-ess-see-oh?! :o

I remember there was a good TV film about Harry Houdini back in the late 70s/early 80s. For some reason, I envision Paul Michael Glaser (aka Starsky) as the main player, but that's probably false memory.

EDIT: It turns out Glaser was the actor in the movie as I've checked his personal website. I glanced at his lifetime achievement section and, once you get past the many photos, his speech reproduced there ruminates on the same life/death/religion issue in the context of his involvement in AIDS related charities but on a more philosophical level than that suggests. Strange that coincidence.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2007, 08:15:49 PM by Urpal »
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Adam

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Re: Bible Studies
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2007, 08:26:11 PM »
He's Captain Hook at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley this Christmas.  Glaser that is.  Not Cave.

Offline Eke

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Re: Bible Studies
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2007, 09:09:08 PM »
Captain Nick! That'd definitely be a panto worth seeing.

Adam

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Re: Bible Studies
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2007, 09:12:49 PM »
Oh no it wouldn't!



{edit}

*tumbleweed*



Alright, back to the God stuff  :-[
« Last Edit: December 06, 2007, 11:19:30 PM by Dame Barbara Cartland »