Sunday’s Guardian featured an article on the phenomenon of aging rockers. Paul McCartney is singled out as an artist who seems unwilling to write about what it’s like to be getting old. However, Grinderman is mentioned as a stand-out example of the opposite.
As all this happens themes of age and experience are finally entering the music. Grinderman, the project led by the Australian singer Nick Cave (54), was purposely created as an outlet for the angst of advancing years, as evidenced by the charmingly titled No Pussy Blues: “I changed the sheets on my bed / I combed the hairs across my head / I sucked in my gut / And still she said / That she just didn’t want to.”
I started thinking about the first Grinderman album and how much I admired its honesty. This is what it feels like to be Nick Cave in his 50s. He is no different from any other man (or woman) in feeling a horrified awareness and raging sorrow at the body’s inevitable decline.
My face is finished/My body’s gone
And I can’t help but think standin’ up here in all this applause
and gazin’ down at all the young and the beautiful.
With their questioning eyes.
That I must above all things love myself.
Grinderman 2 did exactly that: it loved itself. It was like a recently divorced Dad who gets his own a flat and buys a sports car and keeps the nightstand drawer stocked with Viagra, multicolored condoms, and maybe a little bondage gear. It was fresh and brutal and real. It wasn’t a sappy, ‘woe-is-me’ because old age sucks, or any of that. It was a mature man screaming, “I’m not going down without a fight. This is my virility now, this is my down and fucking dirty sexuality, and tough shit if you can’t handle it, because older men still get horny, so let’s take this conversation into the bedroom, shall we darling, and get it while we can.”
Perhaps that’s why so many people mourned the end of Grinderman. They reminded us that yes, life is too fucking short, but it does not have to be a bitter, sad, or boring affair.
I don’t know if there will be another Bad Seeds album. But I don’t want it to go in the opposite direction and be all sad and mournful. (Melancholy is a luxury of youth.) Rather, I hope for a potent mixture of cheating, lying, and sardonic savagery right alongside the tender, wistful, bittersweet, fearsome, and brutal rapture of human love and sexuality. I want language and music that describes what it feels like to have lived more than fifty years on this spinning blue ball: the full-on, stunning, sublime, and terrifying range of life experience.
Not too tall of an order for the likes of Nick Cave.
– Morgan Wolfe, February 20, 2012
See: “Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan? That’s the sound of ageing” – by John Harris (19/02/12)