Design of the Week | One More Time With Feeling
From his impressive catalog of music, to his gothic novel And the Ass Saw the Angel, to his script and score for one of my all-time favorite films, the Aussie western The Proposition, Nick Cave is the man. Last week, I got to see the documentary One More Time With Feeling about the making of Cave's 16th album with the band the Bad Seeds, Skeleton Tree. I knew beforehand of the tragic death of Cave's oldest son, Arthur, and assumed that much of the documentary would be heavy and introspective. Apparently, part of the rationale for producing the documentary was so that Cave wouldn't be asked the question repeatedly by press while promoting Skeleton Tree.
As expected, One More Time With Feeling was a very heavy film. While plenty of time was spent in the studio crafting songs for the album, greater weight is granted to how the loss of his son shaped the artist. One of the things I admire most about Cave is his eloquence. I appreciate how his lyrics oftentimes feature narratives and are capable of conjuring haunting visuals. It was particularly difficult watching someone so grief-stricken struggling to express how they're feeling, or felt. Or when he describes a visit to a bakery, as he waits in line and senses pity through the eyes of everyone else. In those moments, I felt guilty watching, thinking this family should be given the privacy they deserve. However, knowing that the documentary was Cave's idea I've come to imagine the project as therapy-through-art.
Many of my favorite Cave songs are boot-stompers like "Albert Goes West," and there aren't any tracks like that on Skeleton Tree, the album highlighting instead haunting, spiritual songs like "Jesus Alone." "I Need You" is my favorite, Cave's lyrics boiled raw to an unnerving simplicity.
Some of the most compelling moments in One More Time With Feeling occurred when Cave read from his song-book, as he called it. Whether they were lyrics or poems, they were beautiful and stirring. Cave read these over poignant visuals—all the more illuminating in black and white—of his wife wandering along the beach, in their house, or while a car drifts down the streets of their neighborhood.