What 20,000 Days On Earth Taught Me.

 

 

 

Last Friday I took the day off work. I past a poster of Nick Cave’s film at a tube station, immediately checked the showings and made my way to the cinema. I’ve never been to the cinema on my own before, but I felt 20,000 Days On Earth was a film I had to see on my own. Mainly because I didn’t want whoever I went with to talk through it or slag it off in any way afterwards. Nick’s a hero of mine, and this felt like some kind of ritualistic viewing that just had to be done on my own.

I’m rubbish with sitting through films. I can think of other things I’d much rather be doing mid-way such as taking a nap. I would rather create my own world through reading a book or through a piece of music. I knew I wasn’t going to be taken anywhere in particular when watching 20,ooo Days. I went with the hopes of learning and with more love for Nick Cave than I had done before.

You know the story about my love for Nick Cave. It all started with being fascinated with a poster of him on my uncle’s bedroom wall at my grandma’s old house. I used to go up to his room whilst he was out, and just stare in awe at this massive poster of him. I don’t know what it was about it, but I was just obsessed with looking at it. As I got older and heard his words, it became clear why this man was going to be such a vital part of my life. He explained to me what romantic love was before I was subjected to it later than most.

What I learnt from his film was the madness, torture and passion that goes into writing. It doesn’t matter if you are poet or a journalist, you will experience self-doubt, self-hate and the inability to sleep before 3am. You torture yourself to get something good out of you. I did it for years. I relied on naps, custard creams and bad films on BBC2 to get me through daily life. The less I had, the more I wrote. That’s the only way I can put it. I had no money and too much time, the combination of this meant staying up to write anything, something…just so I could. The love to write about music is there, really because I’ve only ever really sat down with one person to speak about music with. That ship has now sailed, for I am frequently told that what I listen to is shit, depressing and/or weird. It teaches you to shut up, but I still write. There must be someone out there. Possibly. Hello.

20,000 Days was not a film I was expecting to have such an emotional grip on me. I am fully aware that seeing it once was not enough. I will more than likely go back to see it, because I want to pick up any details I may have missed out. Anyone who loves and adores Nick Cave would quite happily sit through an hour and half of him reading the phonebook- that’s not the point. What he did with this film was quite simply make me understand exactly why I love him- his mind. A person’s mind is their best quality. Sure we all say looks do count, but the mind is something really powerful and worthy of getting to know. Just because someone wears a nice shirt and has a good jaw line doesn’t mean their mind is any good. They may be really vacant upstairs and can only tell you what the TV tells them.

A few things Nick said during this film have really stuck with me. Like a line from a song that you feel was made just for you. I’ll start with this one:

Your limitations make you the wonderful disaster you most probably are.”  There is no one on this planet who has never fucked up. Remember that. I balls things up on a daily basis, I can’t imagine not ever making a mistake daily. As you get older, you stop caring. I’ve recently been panicking about turning 28 in a few months, and I’ve kept my insecurities to myself, I always have. Hearing someone who I deem as a hero say these words has made a lot of things easier. Those who have never fucked up have never lived. Remember that also. I know what I can do, and what I can’t do. The things I cannot do no longer bother me, I simply accept that they are things I’m just not meant to do or even acknowledge. I’m alright with that. We are all disastrous in our own way, but it doesn’t have to rule you.

-“Mostly I write. Tapping and scratching away, day and night sometimes. But if I ever stopped for long enough to question what I’m actually doing- the why of it- well I couldn’t really tell you… I don’t know.  This one really does speak for itself, I suppose. If you ask anyone why they do something they love, it comes to a point where they can no longer tell you- it just is a part of them that they cannot define. I think, sometimes if you cannot explain why you love something that is enough. When you have a career based on words, sometimes you realise that words aren’t enough to describe it. Does that make sense? In my head it did, but written down it probably doesn’t. I once tried to figure out why I love writing about music, it freaked me out slightly so I stopped. I panicked a little and went back to whatever level of normal I am.

-“Songwriting is like putting a child in a room with a Mongolian warrior and then adding a clown and if the clown doesn’t work you kill the clown.” Quite possibly may have misquoted it, but you get the point. His description on how to write a song is pretty accurate. It is a form of torture but also an intense release. His songs have a glorious sense of euphoric madness to them, and he’s not someone you listen to casually on and off. He’s someone who, once you listen to whether it be The Birthday Party or with the Bad Seeds, that’s you hooked for life. For me, it was The Birthday Party that did it for me. I loved their somewhat aggressive sound, and I do think that Rowland S. Howard was one of the greatest guitarist of all time. Combine that with Nick’s genius way with words, and you have an untouchable band. Nick’s way with words can teach you what love is. Love in the way that no one else has ever really portrayed. It isn’t all leisurely walks in the parks whilst gazing at the sky. It goes deeper than that. It challenges you and the person you love. For better and for worse, it is there. His way with words is not enviable at all, he just makes you realise that there is nobody quite like him and you couldn’t imagine anyone ever coming close to just how brilliant he is. The world would be a better place if we all took time out from our day to listen to Let Love In from start to finish, every single day.

I don’t know what I was expecting from the film, or if I was expecting anything at all- but I learnt a lot. I cried at some parts during the film. When he spoke about his father, and when his father said he looked like an angel on stage- that got to me. When he said losing his memory/mind was something he feared, that hit me right in the gut. When the woman in the front row cried during Stagger Lee (it was Stagger Lee, right? I could be wrong) as Nick was holding her hand, that got me teary eyed. The film was made up of beautiful moments that just made me love Nick Cave more than I thought I possibly could.

 

Oh, and Happy 57th Birthday Nick!

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds-Push The Sky Away.

 

It is impossible to write about a person and a band that are so perfect, that no words can do them justice. All the words and phrases that float about your head then crash into some kind of frenzy just aren’t good enough to sum up everything you are hearing and everything it makes you feel. You can wait forever fo this (by “forever” I mean a few years) and when it hits you, it is the most glorious feeling ever. I’ve been reluctant to write anything recently because I heard the new record by a band that I’ve loved from a very very young age. A band that after 21 years released a new record. There wasn’t much hype, just sincere anticipation. Patience failed me that day, and I felt uneasy writing about anything. Thus proving, not everything is worth waiting for.

But Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds you see mean more. A lot more. Nick Cave is on a par with Morrissey and Patti Smith; he means that much to me. The words, the wisdom, the voice; it is everything. Was waiting for Push The Sky Away worth it? Thankfully it is. It exceeds all expectations and fills a music based gap. It feels like a dream that we have that haunts us yet we allow it to hold some meaning, and everything we do is a step to figuring it all out.

Writing about Nick Cave in any capacity is something that makes you realise how much you love him. As I listen to Push The Sky Away, I feel like that 4-year-old who sat staring at my uncle’s poster of him on his wall. I stared at it for what seemed hours. My gran used to find me staring at this poster and I remember asking her, “Who is that man?” And she said, “That’s Nick Cave.” I remember it so well, and the look in Nick’s eyes in the poster. It made me feel like he was staring at me. Maybe it was a sign, I have no idea. I’m not that mental. But go forward into my early teens and an obsession flared up and stayed with me ever since. As I listen to Push The Sky Away, I feel like that 4-year-old left in awe of someone who would later become my hero for many many reasons.

Push The Sky Away is a record that I feel is a lot more relaxed than any other The Bad Seeds record. My heart is always going to be with The Birthday Party, just because I love the sheer aggression in the music. However, with The Bad Seeds there is a lot more poetry and soul to the music. Of course Nick Cave is basically a poet, regardless of who he is making music with. But with The Bad Seeds, there is an element of poetry to it all. There are so many romantic tones drifting in and out of Push The Sky Away, and these are the reasons as to why I adore Nick Cave. He can be utterly dark yet so tender with his words at the same time. There aren’t many that do this, and if they do; do they do it as well as Nick Cave? Well, that’s a personal opinion. Don’t force it upon anyone.

Higgs Boson Blues is easily my favourite off Push The Sky Away. Maybe after I’ve played it a few more (hundred) times I may change my mind. I’m not entirely sure, but Higgs Boson Blues makes you shut your eyes and imagine you are sat next to Nick Cave driving to nowhere in particular. The open windows cause the dust in the roads to hit your eyes, mildly irritating them but as you wipe it away it is like wiping away the dirt of life. Push The Sky Away is like a re-birth, a cleansing of the soul and the start of something new. All you once had no longer matters. You’ll find meaning in any song by The Bad Seeds. You’ll find anything and everything. A swirl of emotions that make you realise that THIS is the record you have been waiting for.