Ghosteen came out when I was alone in Vancouver, a city I am very ambivalent about. I listened to it as I walked between my hotel and the conference and across the bridge to meet a pal and to the airport on repeat all the way home. The swelling before the punch.
In a way, it’s the most Hallmark Cards of Bad Seeds albums, in its quiet and beautiful arrangements and representations of everyday moments of unconditional love – the kind of album one could theoretically listen to in the car with a parent, if one was maintaining a conversation over it the whole time – no BDSM, no Old Testament, no fingering a partner. The album followed a time of great loss and profound grief, both for Cave and the Bad Seeds themselves. I understand loss acutely but until now I have not known the kind of love it helps me identify. With Ghosteen I am pre-emptively bereft and mourning love that will be lost. Read “Violence, Mourning, Politics” after. (Not me, I’m not sure I can read that again.)
The final song is what I hear when I see Australia on fire. “Hollywood” is their longest track to date (sidenote: I use “Babe, I’m on Fire” as an effective unit of measuring time) on love in the time of climate change. Judith Butler calls for a politics of nonviolence based on an identification of our shared understanding of the feeling of being undone by loss and I wonder if tying love to landscape is politically transformational in the same way. “Hollywood” puts love in a burning landscape and asks if it can outrun a fire. How safe are we by the ocean, in a gust of wind, at twilight.
In your wounds…