Celebrating Absence: A Smattering of Nick Cave + Warren Ellis + The Bad Seeds

As the months go on, I mentally tick off the shows I was supposed to see. I marked them off my calendar long ago, but you know, the little scratched out writing is still there. In the scheme of things, it is a small loss, but occasionally, I indulge in a light depression about it.

This evening, I was supposed to see Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds perform live for the second time. The first time was in Chicago at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. This time, I had a bit more special trip planned. I was going to see him in Detroit, one of my other favorite U.S. cities, at the Masonic Temple Theatre. My brother recommended the room as it is smaller, and he mentioned it would be one of the more intimate ways to catch a show. My brother was also planning to see Nick Cave on a special trip. Double bummer for us.

Instead of a pity party, I’ve been trying to go through some live performances (minus the recording of “All the Beautiful Things”, which I threw because it’s beautiful), and even though I am not there, it’s not live, the band still sounds, looks, and feels damn good.

“Miserable” by Lit

I am going to cross my music writing and sports writing worlds.
This evening, my homie and one time guest writer Tommy B., has the honor of serving as press at a Chicago White Sox game for the outlet we both write at. When the game wasn’t going so well, He tweeted the following:

And I must admit “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit is a guilty pleasure, but one of my favorite songs of Lit and one of my favorite music videos of all time is “Miserable” by Lit.

There is some very late 90s/early aughts-ness going on in this video, but I believe Pam Anderson and everything about her in this video stands the test of time. The swimsuit. The stripper heels. The hair and makeup. Maneater theme. It is a classic.

I actually really like this song too. The lead singer and songwriter, A. Jay Popoff, said it could be about addiction. To me it kind of reminds me of the failure of a relationship where one party is a nightmare or maybe a natural degradation over time– a running of course– where resent me boils.

A good video for a now 20-22 year old jam.

“Our Hearts Are Wrong” by Jessica Lea Mayfield

Jessica Lea Mayfield is so, so underrated. She had a little popularity spike in the early ’10s and has made some more music including a collaboration with Seth Avett of the The Avett Brothers.

Sadly, I have only seen her live (despite so many opportunities to do so previously) at a tiny street festival in Lincoln Park in Chicago. It was a little over two years ago now, and she opened for Foxygen. The crowd at her set was criminally tiny, and oddly enough, I recognized a friend from Nashville that was in her band and got to say hello. It is a very small world.

“Our Hearts Are Wrong” is probably her most popular song, and for a good reason. Jessica Lea Mayfield’s voice has a smokey and comforting quality to it. The style reminds me of country singers from 70s and earlier. The lyrics of the song itself create a lot of tension that is backed up by confidence and certainty.

Enjoy this one on repeat.

“IUD” by Okay Kaya

I am bonkers about this song, and the artist Okay Kaya, lately.

I showed it to some friends, and one of them said “It sounds haunting.” I guess maybe a little. However, it’s a song about someone wanting a partner to come with them to get an IUD in. It’s very clever and a bit bawdy (not really to me because I don’t think contraception is a bawdy topic), but to me, the song is very romantic.

She sounds just as wonderful live, and you can enjoy people chuckling in the background on the clever parts.

“A Song From Under The Floorboards” by Magazine [Peel Session Version]

The great thing about living in Chicago (and I imagine other major cities) is that there are still some indie/alt FM radio listening options. In Chicago, we have the legendary XRT from which I have learned about so many songs (primarily songs before my time on Earth).

One day they played “A Song From Under the Floorboards” by Magazine. I loved it immediately, and I found an even better version, posted below, from famed BBC 1 DJ John Peel’s “Peel sessions”.

I added both versions to my rotation and have been listening to it a lot lately. Lots of people think this song is a reference to Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”, but much like the meaning of the book itself, that is open to some interpretation. And others say this song is a reference to Dostoevsky’s Notes from [the] Underground, which sounds a bit more accurate. And to me, the track’s namesake and chorus only makes me think of The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. Regardless, this song is definitely about self-loathing, but it BUMPS.

My friend Vinny, who recently swapped playlist with me and will be getting his own post soon, was very quick to share his opinion about this version.

I’m not even going to link the Morrissey version here because quite frankly, I don’t want to be associated with it. 🙂

The Complete John Peel Sessions by Magazine can be heard on Spotify (or whatever you use!).

“Getting to Know You” by Onyx Collective

Most folks know as “Getting to Know You” as a song performed by the celebrated Queen of Musical Theater (and film!) Julie Andrews in Rodgers and Hammerstein classic The King and I.

However, lately, I am really feeling this Onyx Collective rendition of “Getting to Know You” (ft. Okay Kaya & Julian Soto). I will do a follow up post about Okay Kaya because she is phenomenal.

Onyx Collective is an experimental jazz collective. And for their album Manhattan Special, they decided to cover only Rodgers and Hammerstein classics. An interesting choice, but I’m not mad about it.

This rendition is perfect to me during this beautiful time of year and the general vibe I am feeling and hoping to hold onto for a little bit.

“Legends Never Die” by Orville Peck and Shania Twain [New Single + Music Video]

My inner child has been delighted this morning by this truly wonderful video featuring one of my current faves, Orville Peck, and one of my perma faves, Shania Twain. BOTH CANADIANS. The “Legends Never Die” song is great, but the video makes it wonderful.

Along with Shania, several other Friends of Orville appear in the video including Jaida Essence Hall, Teddy and the Rough Riders, Emily Nenni, Miss Toto and others.

As I’ve written about before, I am super excited about this batch of alt. country performers, and it’s exciting to see O.G. Queen Shania tag along with them.

Unrequited, Rejected, + Disillusioned: “Painter In Your Pocket” by Destroyer

I have been listening to a lot of Destroyer lately, but their most famous song “Painter In Your Pocket” from the album Destroyer’s Rubies in particular.

You may not know Destroyer. You may not know Dan Bejar (if not you should because he is very talented and handsome!). You might know the musical collective kinda supergroup The New Pornographers. If the latter is true, you have heard Dan Bejar sing– he’s the gender ambiguous voice in “Myriad Harbor“.

Anyway, slowly dying Hero of the Masses SongMeanings.com lists the lyrics for “Painter In Your Pocket” and honorable human beings have shared there thoughts about what the song means. There was one interpretation that struck a cord with other listeners (myself being one of them):

the painter in her (or his?) pocket seems to refer to the person she’s with now, who is responsible for all of her new thoughts and mannerisms, artsy and ‘high minded’ ones given the ‘painter’ part. lovers turn into each other. i don’t know if dan is suggesting that her new self is affected, but i get that vibe.

schopenhauerpower on SongMeanings.com interpretation of “Painter In Your Pocket”

This interpretation makes the most sense to me, but I think saying it is one thing. Listening to the song, you can fill in your own experiences with unrequited romance or rejection. Lyrically, the song takes us on that journey as well as the journey of becoming disillusioned or unfamiliar with a lover or object of your affection.

The Wounded Deer, 1946 by Frida Kahlo

And while the lyrics are great, I like this song mainly because of the vocals and the insturmentals. Dan Bejar’s voice is unique, and it is perfect for taking listeners on a journey– he can take you way high or way low, and he’s great at delivering a song with the snark that comes along with the bitterness of being rejected and/or disillusioned.

Instrumentally, this song is also a journey for me. It starts with a bit of a prologue in the form of an acoustic guitar as Dan seems to talk about watching someone they love be their own person despite maybe missing this person. The song then shifts to a more mellow but somber sound with heavy bass drum. There are a few guitar breaks that allow for some introspection before the song ultimately picks up with more steady guitar, and you’re blasted by full on feelings with Dan sounding straight up exasperated at how much his lover has changed and what a stranger they have become.

Without the lyrics, the song might be able to pass for some hip ambient hotel music or elevator/waiting room music. However, the music combined with the lyrics take me on some sort of journey that give me a chance to navigate almost the entire grief process. Who are you? Do I even know you? Maybe I don’t. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe even for the best, but I wish you nothing but the best.

You can listen to the entire Destroyer’s Rubies album many places, but as you know, I prefer Spotify.

Still Not As Bitchy as Pitchfork