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"A lot of people have nothing to say, and they say it all the time." — Bono

U2 Connections

Nick Cave

by Angela Pancella

Nick Cave

A few years ago, a Wireling used to use this sig file: 

"...A lie for a lie
And a truth for a truth
And I've got nothing left to lose
And I'm not afraid to die" -- Nick Cave, "The Mercy Seat" 

Student of odd biblical references that I am (see http://www.atu2.com/lyrics/biblerefs.html), the twisting of the familiar "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" formula caught my attention. 

My previous exposure to Nick Cave was not a pleasant one -- he had a bit in Wim Wenders' "Wings of Desire," which I rented based on someone's recommendation and just could not get into. I thought he was just scary, dark and depressing. But hey, if he was going to be scary, dark and depressing, and work in a twisted biblical reference, I was willing to pay attention. So I found "The Mercy Seat," and now it's one of my favorite songs. 

It's from the point of view of a man going to, even sitting in, the electric chair: 

"And the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is burning..." 

Talking with little remorse but of good and evil, and of God: 

"In Heaven His throne is made of gold
The ark of his Testament is stowed
A throne from which I'm told
All history does unfold.

Down here it's made of wood and wire
And my body is on fire
And God is never far away." 

That line is significant, because later I was looking up "ark of the covenant" for a friend, when I read that the ark's gold cover was sometimes called "the mercy seat." 

More direct U2 connections to Cave: they both appeared on the soundtrack of Until the End of The World, both with songs including the line "the end of the world" in the title (not surprisingly, as Wim Wenders went to his various alt-rock buddies and asked them for songs to be used in a movie called UTEOTW). He's also on the soundtrack to Faraway, So Close! (again, with a song called "Faraway, So Close!") Nick Cave and U2 both appear on the Batman Forever soundtrack, Cave with a song called "There Is A Light" (including the line "I'm gonna get messed up in a God-Shaped Hole"). 

Cave contributed the introduction to the Gospel of Mark in the British edition of the Pocket Canons which has the intro to the Psalms written by Bono; he mentions how he had this picture of Jesus as this really wimpy guy, and then an advisor told him to read the Mark's Gospel. He was so impressed with Jesus' passionate behavior in this gospel, he went back and asked the advisor "How did you know this gospel was the one I really should read?" The advisor said "I just picked that one 'cause it's shortest." Cave was also a very good friend of Bono's very good friend Michael Hutchence.

To move on from Nick Cave is again, not difficult; he did an album of murder ballads, some traditional and some not, including Bob Dylan's "Death Is Not The End" which was also covered (gloriously) by Gavin Friday on his Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves album.

And we can link now back to where we started, because as @U2 reports, Johnny Cash is cutting a new album. Johnny Cash is planning to cover "One," but also a song ideally suited to him: "The Mercy Seat."