Nick Cave Skeleton Tree

Nick Cave Skeleton Tree

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave Skeleton Tree

Wings of Desire
I'm not sure, but I think the first time I encountered the music of Nick Cave was in Wim Wender's Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin).  I really liked the film and how Cave's music enhanced the film's eerie emotionally intense atmosphere. Cave's music, though not Cave was also in Wings' sequel Faraway, So Close.

Cave seemed to pop up in my meandering musical journey, but I never stopped to listen very long. That was a mistake and I'm trying to catch up.

Nick Cave

Out of ignorance, I thought Cave was either American or English and living in Germany. He was Australian and survived his tumultuous teens: years that included excessive underage drinking, sexual assault (pulling down a school girl's pants), the subsequent school expulsion, stripping in public for fun, and gangster obsession. His teens ended with the death of his father in a car crash. He found out that news from his mother as she bailed him out of jail for burglary. 

Cave has said that he has no memories of his father's funeral, but remembers that "he died at a point in my life when I was most confused." Cave later wrote that "the loss of my father created in my life a vacuum, a space in which my words began to float and collect and find their purpose."

Cave Music

While still in school, Cave and some other students started a cover band called Concrete Vulture. As the name might imply, the covers were by artists such as Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Alice Cooper. 

Out of school and still in Australia,  they changed the band's name to The Boys Next Door. Their performances, led by Cave, successfully got them banned from venue after venue.

Birthday Party

The Boys Next Door made one album and went to London. The stage act, often described as riotous with Cave yelling, howling, and jumping around the stage, 

John Peel, a disc jockey, record producer,  and journalist announced their "Release the Bats" the best record of 1981 and success followed.


In 1983 Birthday Party moved to Berlin where it dissolved and some pieces reformed as The Bad Seeds.  Simon Reynolds has described Cave's songwriting as  "the fullest, most hideously voluptuous flowering of the abject in rock."

Life imitates Art

Cave's career has careened through other arts such as the above mentioned acting as well as screen writer, author, playwright, and lecturer. 

Cave and Viviane Carneiro had a son Luke. Cave had another son Jethro who lives with his mother in Australia. 

He controlled his demons and found family life in Brighton, England and with his third wife Susie Bick had twins, Earl and Arthur.

On July 14, 2015 darkness descended on Cave. His son Arthur, 15, under the influence of LSD,  suffered a fatal brain injury after plunging onto the underpass of Ovingdean Gap in Brighton.

Nick Cave Skeleton Tree

Nick Cave Skeleton Tree

Skeleton Tree  is Cave's 16th album with the Bad Seeds.  Arthur Cave's death occurred during Skeleton Tree's writing and recording and sadness surrounds each song. Though the circumstances are somewhat different, I am reminded of David Bowie's Blackstar. 

Knowing what we know, it is a wonderfully difficult album to listen to. W.B. Yeat's "terrible beauty."

The album's fifth song, "Anthrocene" expresses that horrible sadness best:
All the things we love, we love, we love, we lose
It’s our bodies that fall when they try to rise
And I hear you been looking out for something to love
Sit down beside me and I’ll name it for you
Behold, behold
The heaven bound sea
The wind cast its shadow and moves for the tree
Behold the animals and the birds and the sky entire
I hear you been out there looking for something to set on fire
The head bow children fall to their knees
Humbled in the age of the Anthrocene

Nick Cave Skeleton Tree. 

Mary Louise Smith Ware

Mary Louise Smith Ware

Mary Louise Smith Ware

As odd as it may sound, sometimes being historic depends on whether others think you can be historic. In other words, you may do something historic, but others feel that you do not look the part and thus your historic act is left to wither.

Irene Morgan

The right to chose a bus seat regardless on one's race was not possible under the specific Jim Crow laws of many states as well as the unspoken norms of most states. On July 16, 1944, 27-year-old Irene Morgan, recovering from a miscarriage and traveling by bus from Virginia to Baltimore for a doctor’s appointment, refused to give up her seat to a white couple. 

Angered by the refusal, the bus driver drove the bus to the Middlesex County town of Saluda and stopped outside the jail. A sheriff's deputy came aboard and told Morgan that he had a warrant for her arrest. She continued to refuse and police had to physically subdue her. Authorities jailed her for resisting arrest and violating Virginia's segregation law.

Because interstate travel came under the auspices of the federal government, civil rights lawyers challenged Morgan's later conviction. On June 3, 1946, in Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia, the US Supreme Court (6 – 1) ruled in favor of Morgan declaring that  segregated seating on interstate buses an "impermissible burden on interstate commerce."  

Claudette Colvin

Few know the name Claudette Colvin, but on March 2, 1955 the 15-year-old Colvin boarded a city bus after school to head home. As it filled up, a white woman was left standing, and the bus driver ordered Colvin to get up and move to the back. She refused. Police dragged Colvin off the bus in handcuffs.

Mary Louise Smith

On October 21, 1955 police arrested 18-year-old Mary Louise Smith  for violating segregation laws in Montgomery, Ala.  She had refused to change her bus seat.

Her father bailed her out of jail and paid the nine-dollar fine. The incident was initially known only to family and neighbors. Nothing more was said or done about it. At first.

Rosa Parks

Of course, most of us know that Rosa Parks, considered the godmother of the Civil Rights Movement, did the same thing on December 1, 1955. Parks certainly deserves that honored recognition.

Browder v. Gayle

On February 1, 1956, attorney Fred Gray and other attorneys filed a civil suit, Browder v. Gayle in the United States District Court, challenging state and local laws on bus segregation. Mary Louise Smith was one of five plaintiffs. Others included including Aurelia Browder, Claudette Colvin, Susie McDonald, and Jeanette Reese, though Reese left the case that month because of intimidation.

Ironically, the case did not include Rosa Parks herself. Gray  had made the decision to avoid the perception that the defendants were seeking to circumvent Parks's prosecution on other charges. Gray ‘‘wanted the court to have only one issue to decide—the constitutionality of the laws requiring segregation on the buses’’

The women testified before a three-judge panel. On June 13, 1956 the court ruled that the laws were unconstitutional, based on equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Montgomery and Alabama appealed the case and eventually the US Supreme court took the case. 

On November 13, 1956, the US Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's ruling and on December 17, it declined an appeal by the city and state to reconsider, and on December 20 ordered the state to desegregate its buses. 

This final decision ended the Montgomery Bus Boycott that had begun with Rosa Parks refusal and with Rosa Parks as the figurehead of the subsequent boycott. 

Mary Louise Smith Ware

Smith married a Mr. Ware and they had four children together. They later divorced. Smith Ware continued to work for civil rights such as for voting rights before the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, and participated in the March on Washington in 1963. Her sister Annie's son was a plaintiff in the lawsuit to desegregate the Y.M.C.A. Smith is active with her 12 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She enjoys reading, and she is active in several of her church auxiliaries and senior citizen clubs. When Rosa Parks died in October 2005, Smith Ware, then 68, attended the memorial service in Montgomery. "I had to pay my tribute to her," Ware said. "She was our role model."

Mary Louise Smith Ware, Mary Louise Smith Ware, Mary Louise Smith Ware, Mary Louise Smith Ware, Mary Louise Smith Ware, Mary Louise Smith Ware, Mary Louise Smith Ware, Mary Louise Smith Ware, 

Wednesday Morning 3am

Wednesday Morning 3am

Simon and Garfunkel

Released October 19, 1964

Wednesday Morning 3am

1964 v 1965

     What is the difference between 1964 and 1965? Listen to the 1964 "Sounds of Silence" on Simon and Garfunkel's debut album, Wednesday Morning 3AM (actually you are listening to a piece of it as you read this). 

     Then listen to the 1965 overdubbed revamped version re-released on Simon and Garfunel's Sounds of Silence album and you hear what that difference is.

     When Simon and Garfunkel recorded Wednesday Morning 3am Beatlemania has just blossomed in the USA and Bob Dylan the folk singer still the pied piper for future folk singers.

Hey Schoolgirl

Wednesday Morning 3am

     School friends and Everly Brothers-inspired, Simon and Garfunkel were aspiring folk singers. In 1957 they'd had had minor success as Tom and Jerry singing "Hey Schoolgirl" written by Jerry Landis and Tommy Graph. 

He Was My Brother

     The song that caught Columbia producer Tom Wilson ear was Paul Simon's "He Was My Brother." Andrew Goodman was one of the young men that the Ku Klux Klan killed on June 21, 1964. Goodman had also been a classmate of Simon and Garfunkel.  [see Freedom Summer]

     Like most folk albums of the time, it was an acoustic:
  • Paul Simon – acoustic guitar, banjo on “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream”, vocals
  • Barry Kornfeld – acoustic guitar
  • Bill Lee – acoustic bass
     And since the Beatles were dominating the music of 1964, the album [they'd had five #1 songs that year], the album had no commercial success.

     Paul Simon went to England to pursue a solo career. Art Garfunkel returned to Columbia to pursue his studies.

Tom Wilson did it

     Until. Until Tom Wilson. Tom Wilson was one of Columbia Records main producers. He was involved with Bob Dylan and by 1965 Bob wasn't working on Maggie's farm no more. Wilson gathered the musicians Dylan used on "Like a Rolling Stone" and used them to re-do "Sounds of Silence."

     That version is the version we are mainly familiar with. The electric version. The version with drums.

     The song, as we already know, became a huge hit. One of the biggest songs in the American songbook and is included in the  National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress.

Wednesday Morning 3am

     With the success of the single, the due reformed and recorded The Sounds of Silence album. Recorded in the middle of 1965 and released in early 1966. Its success led to fans noticing their Wednesday Morning 3am. 

     Here are the track listings for the album:
  • You Can Tell the World
  • Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream
  • Bleeker Street*
  • Sparrow*
  • Benedictus
  • The Sound of Silence*
  • He Was My Brother*
  • Peggy O
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain
  • The Sun is Burning
  • The Times They Are a-Changin
  • Wednesday Morning 3am*
     The asterisk indicates Paul Simon (aka Paul Kane) compositions. Like many upcoming artists who became famous because of their compostional genius, Simon was still on a learning curve.

     Columbia Records staff photographer Henry Parker took the album's cover photo. The location was the lower subway platform at Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street, New York City. Art Garfunkel  hasrelated that during the photo session many of pictures Parker took were unusable due to the "old familiar suggestion" on the wall.  Those type of graffiti inspired Paul Simon to write the song "A Poem on the Underground Wall" for the duo's later Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme album.

What's so funny about peace, love, and activism?