“Through every word that I speak
And every thing I know
There is hand that protects me
And I do love her so.”
Where I described everything about love, lust and all in between on Let Love In- I seemed to have reserved some of that for The Boatman’s Call. A record that pours out devotion and desire. Two things you need to keep anything alive. The Boatman’s Call is a record that I’d not given that much attention to. I love Nick Cave, that’s so obvious. And for the most part I do find myself swayed to anything pre- Murder Ballads. I’d found it hard to love anything as much as the records pre-1997, but obvious that’s a really lame stance to take and this is me rectifying it to myself. This doesn’t mean I don’t like or haven’t listened to anything after, far from it. I just have more of a connection with older records. Hey, if I can learn to like olives then I’m pretty sure I can do this.
Going back on my words, The Boatman’s Call is as great as Let Love In. The Boatman’s Call opens with the greatest love song of all time- Into My Arms. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like this song or has never quoted it at someone they love. Or even thought of the song when in the presence of the person they love. It’s just a stunning declaration of unconditional love, and when you feel that way about someone or something you cling onto it. Fight off anyone who ever tries to take it from you. It’s the kind of love song that’s part Ted Hughes, part Poe; “But I believe in love. And I know that you do too. And I believe in some kind of path. That we can walk down, me and you.” But it is every single part Nick Cave, from beginning to end.
By no means am I religious, and if I was I’d keep those views to myself- but I love the way in which Nick Cave links in religious imagery in his words. Example already above in Into My Arms- but the rest of this record, and others have heavy religious imagery flowing throughout them. It’s the way he does it that makes you curious and wonder if there is anything there. Maybe there is. There probably is, so believe in whatever the hell you want and just be kind to each other. That’s how it should be. I love this line from Brompton Oratory: “No God up in the sky, no devil beneath the sea. Could do the job that you did, baby. Of bringing me to my knees.” I had another in mind, but this one just etched its way into my brain.
Where Into My Arms describes wanting to protect and to forever love the one you want, Are You The One That I’ve Been Waiting For? just sums up finding someone that you’re evidently meant to be with, and the realisation hits you. With nothing or no one getting in the way of it. Things take time, and Are You The One just describes all of the waiting so perfectly. Again, I wish I could write something like this. “I think of you in motion and just how close you are getting. And how every little thing anticipates you. All down my veins my heart-strings call, are you the one that I’ve been waiting for?”
The Boatman’s Call is the record that shifts Nick away from his more rowdy and loud sound, although it’s clear he has still flirted with that sound more often than not. The songs on The Boatman’s Call are gentle, loving and dark. Have I just described myself? Every single time I listen to him, I just find new words to love, a different verse to be taken aback by. Everything he does and has ever done just sums up what I’m feeling at a certain point. The vast majority of his songs hold such sentimental value, I don’t even know how to use my own words.
As I listen to Idiot Prayer, I can’t help but revert to being 9/10 years old and carrying this anger towards my dad for dying. Does the anger fade? A little. Do you get over it? No, you develop ways to hide your feelings. Anyway, irrespective of my inability to know what to do, I’ve found something in this verse: “If you’re in Heaven then you’ll forgive me, dear. Because that’s what they do up there. If you’re in Hell, then what can I say, you probably deserved in anyway. I guess I’m gonna find out any day. For we’ll meet again, and there’ll be Hell to pay.” He didn’t deserve it, for the record. It’s just a lyric. I think it’s taken me 21 years to find something to relate to regarding this.
Far From Me is such a painful song, that’s full of loss and torment. There’s parts of it that can reduce the toughest to tears. It’s hard to listen to, but I reckon most can identify and find comfort in: “You told me you’d stick by me. Through the thick and through the thin. Those were your very words, my fair-weather friend.” There’s other parts of the song that are equally as brutal as this, but I think that one just speaks for itself. It’s a brilliant “fuck you”, and lord knows that there are some worthy of it.
The record ends with Green Eyes, which the opening line is taken from the gorgeous Sonnet 18 by Louise Labé (read her work) : “Kiss me again, rekiss me and kiss me.” A stunning way to close the record, and is easily one of the best songs on The Boatman’s Call. Those green eyes….
Although The Boatman’s Call sees Nick taking himself away from previous sounds, that atmosphere in his lyrics are still there. They’ve always been there and I highly doubt that they will ever go away. If anything, as stripped back The Boatman’s Call is, it just shows how powerful a write he is- in every single way. He can take you to this world that makes you feel so safe, and so at ease with how you feel. It’s one of those records you play, and you realise again and again why you love him, and why words are so important. This record says all you want and wish to say- he just got there first.