NIN - Official Website
Anyone who knows me, or even anyone who doesn’t really know me but reads this blog has to understand how much I absolutely love and adore Nick Cave. Nick Cave the musician, the writer, the actor, the poet, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Grinderman, The Birthday Party… I feel like I have spent most of my life listening to Nick Cave, reading Nick Cave, seeing Nick Cave in concert and so forth. I literally wait for every new album with baited breath, knowing full well that I will never be disappointed. Granted, there are a few albums that I listen to less than others, but I’ve never disliked anything that he and the Bad Seeds have ever produced.
You can't cry
Put your glad rags on and let's sing along
To that lonely song
Even though the Mylène Farmer song Désenchantée was actually high in the charts that summer, I am pretty sure the first Mylène Farmer video I saw was for the song Pourvu qu'elles soient douces, a Barry Lyndonesque recreation set in the 18th century. I could however, be completely wrong, because my research tells me that it was censored for TV as it contained nudity and sex. It would have been edited anyway, because the full-length version is about 20 minutes long, and would have never been shown during regular TV hours. So it is possible I am right. I just know that a few of her videos were on regular play during that summer, the two above, and Libertine. The Pourvu qu'elles soient douces video is actually a sequel of the Libertine video, in which Mylène plays the same character (named Libertine). You can pretty much imagine what a young woman named Libertine would get up to amongst a group of debaucherous characters in 18th century France.
I fell in love with the videos. They were mini movies, shocking, beautiful, something straight out of one of the novels I was so obsessed with. It wasn't until a while later that I also fell in love with the music, because I needed to understand the lyrics before I could really appreciate the songs. So dark and intriguing. It was pop music mixed with something a lot darker and artsy, with a voice both fragile and strong at the same time. Over the years I spent in France Mylène Farmer became one of my favourite contemporary French artists. I would forget about her for a while, to fall right back in love with her again, always because of the amazing videos that she put out every time she released a new album.
After dropping out of high school in 1995 I was working as a chambermaid at the Hotel Ibis in the centre of Grenoble and at the time M6 pretty much played the video for California on a loop. In the video Mylène plays both a rich woman with her lover and a street hooker in California. She witnesses her double being threatened on the streets of LA (her double is then murdered in the video), so goes back there, dressed as a prostitute herself to avenge her double's death by murdering her double's pimp. There was something about the song, the many puns in the lyrics and the beauty of the video that kept me dreaming that there was something more out there for me, even while I was cleaning someone's mess up just so that someone else could make their own mess in the same spot.
The next year Mylène went on one of her extremely rare, but extravagant, tours, and a double live disc of her show at Bercy (Live à Bercy) was released. That year I listened to it over and over and over again, the most poignant part probably being when her voice breaks during Rêver and she stops singing, just for the crowd to sing the song for her until she regains control. I know her voice breaks a lot during the show, and that she has a hard time hitting all the high notes, but there is something so human and heartbreaking about that, especially when you understand the lyrics properly. OK, I was going through a hard time back then, so it helped to listen to songs that were just as sad as the way I felt, and were a great counter to everything else I listened to on a loop (everything being The Cure).
There were many nights that my best friend during the late 90's and early 2000's, Maud, and I would roam the streets of Grenoble at night, drinking wine from the bottle and singing "Je je suis libertine, je suis une catin", to the most probable horror of anyone trying to sleep. I think we thought we were being daring and annoying at the same time. Actually, we were. All the time. Other times we would sing Sans contrefaçon to the statue of Berlioz on the Place Victor Hugo. I'm sure he enjoyed it immensely. Je t'aime mélancolie was another favourite, not that that should surprise anyone. We would run around dressed in suits and ties and Doc Martens with dark ribbons in our hair, a bottle of wine in one hand, a cigarette in the other. Cendres de lune...
In 1999 Mylène released the song Je te rends ton amour, a single off her (then) new album, and it immediately caused a huge scandal as the video depicted a church, blood, naked woman, the devil and a crucifixion pose. Super goth, super controversial and immediately banned on most TV channels. When it was released as a video single Maud and I made sure we were able to purchase one. It's still one of my favourite Mylène songs to this day. After that album I kind of lost touch with Mylène, especially because she didn't release anything for ages after that, and also because I left France and came to the States. I did try to find her 2005 album, but it was impossible to purchase in the States, so I gave up. I'm sure that with the help Spotify I can now discover her new songs, like or dislike them, and listen to the old songs I used to love so much again. It's strange, she's one of those artists that I adore, I love her image, her videos, her words, but I don't love every single one of her songs. There are some amazing ones, and others that just don't really do much for me. She's one of those artists that I could make my own "best of" playlist and just listen to that (although it could end up being pretty long). I think it's mainly the whole image, the long-standing artistic partnership with Laurent Boutonnat and the magic they create together, the wonderful videos, the darkness, the melancholy, the beauty and ultimately her reluctance to share her life with the Press, and her desire to remain as private as possible. All I really know about her is the image that she has portrayed through her music over the years.
Additional information on the artist HERE
Also - disregard the subtitles on the video of Je te rends ton amour above - they are terrible.
So I watched the video (and loved the song of course), and then started looking up who this Ren Harvieu with this beautiful voice was. It appears that she is British, has an album coming out on May 7th, had an accident last year that should have left her paralyzed but that she managed to recover from and has an amazing voice. I have such a soft spot for strong female voices and characters, especially ones who send chills down my spine when they sing, with or without musical instruments accompanying them. You just have to listen to her over of my love Roy Orbison's Crying (see below) to see what I mean... Stunning. I couldn't stop listening to her and tried to find anything online that I could play via Spotify or download and put on my ipod... Nothing available in the US unfortunately... It doesn't even look like you can buy the album on iTunes here when it comes out... So I am going to continue to watch videos on youtube until some nice soul who lives in England sends me her album.
YAY I am so excited to have finally found a musician to be excited about again! And my lovely friend Charlie just told me that she would send me the album when it comes out, so now I am over the moon. Cue jumping up and down and looking like an idiot ;)
Have a listen and a look below...
Ren Harvieu Facebook
It’s not a secret that I spent a lot of my life in France, as I moved there at an early age and grew up there, only moving away when I was well into my 20’s. It will always be the country I first and foremost call home, before England (although it has been a struggle to choose between the two at times). One of my favourite things on earth is literally sitting en terrasse with a café and a cigarette, watching the world go by, or with my head buried in a book or writing in my journal. I dream and think in French as much as I do in English and miss it so much at times that I feel like moving back (until I remind myself why I love New York so much and why I have made this city my home). I grew up surrounded by French music, even before we moved to France I already knew of and listened to some of the classic French singers, such as Gainsbourg, Edith Piaf, France Gall, Juliette Gréco, but when I moved to France I discovered the infamous Belgian singer/songwriter Jacques Brel.And fell completely in love.
You can read a pretty informative biography over on Wikipedia, as I am not going to use this space to rehash it (and wouldn’t be able to do such a good job seeing as I am very bad at paraphrasing content that has already been written… Probably a remnant of the excellent French education I received growing up). I just mainly want to say how much I love Jacques Brel. That voice, full of emotion and power, those beautiful lyrics… Multi-talented and so creative, he not only released 13 full-length studio albums and toured extensively for years, he also appeared as an actor in several films, directed others and adapted, translated, directed and played in a musical. I’m so happy that he recognized what an amazing array of talents he had and made the most of them, leaving us with so many wonderful songs and movies and soundtracks. I also have a secret crush on his Belgian accent, which is deeper and harsher than the French accent (those of you who speak French will probably laugh at this because everyone usually dislikes the Belgian French accent).
I wish I had been alive to see one of his wonderful performances. Sadly he died a few months after I was born, leaving me to just imagine what it was like. He wrote some of the most beautiful and heart-breaking love songs of all time. Enjoy.
I LOVE The Kills. I don't think I have missed one of their shows in NYC over the past 5 years, and I honestly think that they just get better and better with every album and every tour. It makes me so happy that they have become SO big over the past few years, selling out Terminal 5 and playing to a super diverse crowd. So many super excited teenagers in the front rows that were singing along to every single word, and little Allison Mosshart lookalikes with their wigs and happy smiles. I love that the kids love them as much as the adults - so much better than idolising any of that manufactured crap playing everywhere. From my spot just above the stage I could see so many happy faces, and this just made the show even better for me.
Anyway, as always they delivered a fantastic performance, adding 4 drummers to about half of the songs on the setlist, all dressed up as old-school gangsters and lit up through the drumkits. The beats sounded fucking amazing, a super powerful sound. I can still feel it resonating through my body. On top of playing many of my favourites, they also did a great rendition of Patsy Cline's Crazy, stripped down, with just Jamie Hince and Allison Mosshart sitting at the front of the stage, singing and playing for the crowd of fans. Awesome. Seriously awesome.
Can't wait to see them again, and see them go through 10 more years of awesomeness!
Thanks Kerry <3
MTV also streamed the concert live HERE
The Kills official website HERE
I’m a little delayed on writing this one. I’ve listened to it many times since it began streaming on NPR, and then when it was released on January 31st. One of my most anticipated albums for months, I feel like the music world has been blessed with both excellent new releases by both Tom Waits (Bad As Me late last year) and now Old Ideas by Leonard Cohen.
The lyrics of Going Home, “Going home without my sorrow, going home sometime tomorrow, going home to where it's better than before” are just so simply beautiful. Take off everything that weighs you down and disguises you and walk free towards home, wherever home may be. Death? Maybe. Another world or life? Maybe.
I grew up on Leonard Cohen, quite literally. I inherited all of the old vinyls from my father, stepfather and mother (now in my lovely brother’s care), and have turned to his music and lyrical poetry so many times in my life that I don’t think I could even remember why. Famous Blue Raincoat and Chelsea Hotel #2 conjure up images of sad, rainy and grey days in New York City, walking up Park Ave from the subway, trying to rid myself of the constant heartache I was feeling at the time. Everybody Knows remind me of a trip back from Bodega Bay with my brother, the song starting minutes after we had both told each other stories that neither had managed to tell each other before. Dark roads, unknown secrets and Leonard’s soothing voice keeping us going towards the next destination. First We Take Manhattan takes me back to England in the 80’s, in our old flat by the churchyard, not knowing why certain events had happened and how I was ever going to forget or forgive them from happening. I could go on for hours…
I have seen Leonard Cohen perform just once in my life, and it will still remain the best show I have ever been to. Radio City Music Hall in May 2009. Over 3 hours of an absolutely amazing performance. This is all I could say on my blog back then, and I think I will keep it at that right now:
“Leonard Cohen was amazing - I am still in awe of him and his performance on Saturday night. I really can't describe the feeling of seeing someone you have pretty much admired and adored all of you life, performing in front of you. So I am not even going to try. I will keep the jumble of superlatives stuck in my head and leave it up to you to imagine.
Leonard Cohen. On stage. Yes.”
So, Old Ideas. Another wonderful collection of Leonard’s poems and music, not that I expected anything less. His voice alone has the tendency to reduce me to automatic tears when I hear it, and surround me with memories, despair and much hope, and this album does exactly that. Although low-key in sound, it is never simple, on the contrary it is full of metaphors for death, God, spirituality, love, despair and hope. Somehow it feels like an end to something, not as much the end of life, but maybe a final chapter in a life, the emphasis being on the article “a”. The background singers sound like angels, and the occasional use of an organ and the simple guitar sounds bring calm and serenity to the words that go from bleak to self-deprecating to even happy at times. Ten beautiful songs that each tell a story in the usual Cohen style. Just listen to it and dream – I know you won’t be disappointed.
“You know it really is a pity, the way you treat me now; I know you can't forgive me but forgive me, anyhow. The ending got so ugly, I even heard you say, "You never ever loved me but could you love me anyway?" I dreamed about you, baby, you were wearin' half your dress I know you have to hate me but could you hate me less? I've used up all my chances and you'll never take me back But there ain't no harm in askin', "Could you cut me one more slice?” from Anyhow
Saturday 9th June 2001 - Grenoble, France
I saw the best concert I'd ever been to last night: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Strangely enough I didn't feel as hysterically excited as I did before the Cure concert last year, it was all more calm. Maud and I were the first people to arrive at the Transbordeur (in Lyon), and as we were sitting in the carpark, smoking cigarettes and reading I saw Nick Cave go by... He is as absolutely gorgeous in the flesh as he is in pictures and on the screen. The man is everything: character, humour, uncharacteristic gorgeousness - anyway, he really is just this whole image. First it started with his music (this mini obsession I have with him) - when I was younger Louise used to listen to him all the time and I used to pretend to hate it, and then suddenly I fell in love, and now I can't go a day without listening to him. Anyway, it's a whole: the music, the person, the lyrics... Anyway, where was I?
The doors to the hall were opened around 7pm, and Maud and myself didn't even think of grabbing first row places, we ended up going up the steps, middle back, where we had a great view and we could sit down, and we weren't far from the front at all. The support band was not that good, well I didn't like it anyway. Australian band lacking in many things, especially atmosphere.
And then Nick Cave. It's undescribable really. The band started off with Do You Love Me? (great way to start!), and continued on, with many songs from the last album (at the time was No More Shall We Part), beautiful songs, especially the one I had difficulty containing my tears to, Hallelujah, others like Red Right Hand, The Mercy Seat, Henry, Into My Arms and many more. Nick Cave was wonderful, he's still full of energy, of anger, of pain... So were the Bad Seeds, although I found Blixa to have a little less energy than the rest, maybe he's always like that. Anyway, the audience was great, except for the idiot stagediver, you couldn't hear anyone during the slower songs, total respect, followed by thundering applause and cries.
When they left the stage the first time the whole audience was so heated up, front to back, that everyone felt as one big clap and stamp of the foot. They came back twice, two encores.
Excellent, fabulous, enchanting, too short, but it would never have been long enough. I want to see it again and again and again and again... I feel some kind of sense of fulfillment though, I saw Nick Cave and it was brilliant, even better than I could have expected, and I will see him again in a few years. That voice... So powerful and beautiful. To be honest, they are even better live than on album, and that is extremely difficult. They are all so together on stage. I can't explain all the emotions I felt during the concert, but it's all there and here, in my head and in my heart.
After the concert was the slight problem of getting home. Now Maud and I usually have a total lack of organisation going on, it's like we will organise the logistics of doing something and getting there, and the rest will work itself out. I love it. So we really didn't know how to get back to Grenoble (note: Grenoble is about 100km through the mountains from Lyon). We had the train timetable and saw that the last thing back to Grenoble was a bus from the Part Dieu station. We had 20 minutes to get there. We tried to hitch a ride and thankfully a nice couple dropped us off right in front of the station. We ran around looking for the buses, found where they were and looked for ours. Not there. Ten minutes later I looked at the timetable again and realised that it was only valid from June 10th onwards. That bus didn't even exist yet!!! Thankfully there was a train to Grenoble at twenty past midnight so we drank cappuccinos waiting for it and sang Henry Lee and Do You Love Me? on the train. I tell you we were lucky because otherwise we would have been hanging around in Lyon until 6am!!! Not that we really cared we were on such an emotional high.
Anyway, I have my literature exam on Monday, my last exam this year, so I had better go and finish reading Macbeth again. I hope the exam will be with Mme Blattes and that it will be on The French Lieutenant's Woman... I can't wait for it to be over at last.
Thank God for the pure existence of Nick Cave.
Note: The official live DVD released for this tour was actually the footage of this show in Lyon. Another note: I have seen Nick Cave many a time since then and he is always amazing.