Watch Nick Cave’s Devastating New Video

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“In love, I love, you love…” and try to continue.

By Fred Mills

Though the new Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds album Skeleton Tree has been warmly received by critics – among them, Blurt’s own Jennifer Kelly, who in her 5-out-of-5-stars review called it “a testament to his art, his flaying honesty and his persistence in the wake of devastating loss” – it has taken the slow roll out of videos to fully convey the record’s import, and fully render its impact. First came “Jesus Alone,” followed by “I Need You,” both issued in September, both of which dealt with the tragic death of one of Cave”s sons, the 15-year old Arthur, from a climbing accident that apparently involved the boy’s ingestion of LSD.

Now comes “Magneto,” which on some levels is perhaps the most devastating track, and video, thus far. It’s a studio performance video, though stylized, and part of director Andrew Dominik’s One More Time With Feeling documentary intended to be a companion to Skeleton Tree. You can watch it below, but as a personal note, I suggest you read the lyrics, also below, in order to gain a sense of the depth of Cave’s despair. You might not detect it immediately, but anyone who has ever shared the gift of childbirth will, I suspect, get at least a whiff of what Cave and his wife, late son Arthur’s mother, have gone through.

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I have a 15 year old myself, and the video made we weep in a way that the song, isolated on the album, had not quite affected me yet. I cannot fully imagine what Cave went through, and I pray I never have to go through it, but at least I know that if I do, I’ll have someone I can turn to for momentary solace. Perhaps a lasting solace, too. Wait – hold that thought:

Mostly I never knew which way was out
Once it was on, it was on and that was that
The umbilicus was a force that they’d found in rabid blood
Then I spin on my wheel like a laboratory rat
I was an electrical storm on the bathroom floor, clutching the bowl
My blood was for the gags and other people’s diseases
My monstrous little memory had swallowed me whole
It was the year I officially became the bride of Jesus
In love, in love, in love you laugh
In love you move, I move and one more time with feeling
For love, you love, I laugh, you love
Saw you in heart and the stars are splashed across the ceiling
Oh, the urge to kill somebody was basically overwhelming
I had such hard blues down there in the supermarket queues
And I had a sudden urge to become someone, someone like you
Who started out with less than anyone I ever knew
In love, in love, I love, you love, I laugh, you love
I move, you move and one more time with feeling
I love, you love, I laugh, you love
I’m sewn in heart and all the stars are splashed ‘cross the ceiling
Oh, and oh, you come shining
Softly to the hold of a drink
Come as far as the edge of my blood and swim
And in the bathroom mirror I see me vomit in the sink
And all through the house we hear the hyena’s hymns
Of love, I love, you love, I love, you love, I laugh, you love
I move, you move, you move, and one more time with feeling
I love, you love, I laugh, you love
We saw each other in heart and all the stars have splashed and splattered ‘cross the ceiling
“Solace” being a relative thing, it’s worth examining what Britain’s The Guardian said about this particular track. Clearly, the reviewer questions whether recovery – physical, spiritual, or otherwise – is even possible following such a literal and psychic upheaval for a parent. Wrote Mark Mordue, “If one were to accept Cave’s image of an elastic agony that always pulls him back, and take it as a map for the album, it certainly begins in a cold place and moves out. But we don’t get pulled back, exactly. Nor do we get pulled down, although down we go, quite often. ‘I had such hard blues down there in the supermarket queues,’ Cave declares in ‘Magneto,’ one of the Skeleton Tree’s supreme achievements. He goes on to echo Van Morrison’s Madame George – ‘In love I love you love I love you love … ‘ – in a Sufi-like mantra that ends, beautifully, agonisingly, with lovers who ‘saw each other in half – and all the stars are splashed and splattered across the ceiling.’ It’s a vision of a couple in an empty children’s room where love and pain must live forever together, ‘while all through the house we hear the hyena’s hymns’.”

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