We were driving around recently on a Saturday morning with the radio on. The great comedian Stewart Lee was speaking about the first song that his family all “got” simultaneously. I don’t recall the song but it got me thinking. This is the first post in a series that have a similar resonance for our family.
We have an old iPod nano plugged into our car stereo. The songs have been on a constant shuffle for ten years and have only been periodically updated when I remember to unplug it and bring it into the flat. As time has worn on some songs have got played more than others.
The most played is “Abattoir Blues” by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. This isn’t because it is an instant family favourite (It has ended up being so by osmosis). It is because after the car has sat idle for a few days, as it often does in London, the iPod resets and goes back to alphabetically the first track on the MP3 player.
Hence we start at A for Abattoir – as all the best educational children’s books so often do.
The song has a slow drumbeat with a couple of piano chords. Nick comes in:
“The sun is high up in the sky and I’m in my car, drifting down into the abattoir“
We’re not going to the Abattoir though – more probably Ally Pally ice rink. The only connection is the icy cold temperature of the destination.
“I went to bed last night and my moral code got jammed, I woke up this morning with a Frappucino in my hand“
I struggle to come up with another song with reference to a Starbucks drink and I would also struggle to come up with a less likely caffeine based drink for Nick to be holding first thing in the morning.
The song finishes with a bit of self loathing, which Nick always handles with such aplomb:
“I wanted to be your Superman but I turned out such a jerk, I got the Abattoir Blues right down to my shoes“
As an aside, I have had endless childish fun with N who didn’t appreciate that the songs were following alphabetically. I had a run of forecasting 4 or 5 songs in a row whilst she thought the iPod was on shuffle. Sadly my psychic abilities are nil, as my run of luck with lottery tickets demonstrates.
Here’s the song live from Later from 2004. This is a rather sedate version with the gospel singers that featured on the album that the eponymous album and following tour. I saw the Bad Seeds at the Brixton Academy on the same tour. There’s a DVD available which is worth seeking out with Nick casting a shadow over the baroque setting of the venue like a giant mantis. The album itself is I think very underrated and sits proudly alongside the remainder of the Bad Seeds canon.
I’ve also attached a second version which whilst the sound quality is poorer I actually prefer. I don’t go out dancing much anymore but if I were to, rocking the gold lame shirt and moves that Nick does here would be central to a good night.
I’ll follow this up with more family favourites. A bonus prize is on offer for whoever can name the next alphabetical track on the iPod.