We recently acquired Nick Cave’s new album “Dig Lazarus Dig”. I found it somewhat jarring at first. I think I prefer Cave’s ballads – to me they best suit his sultry voice and brooding subject matter. But I have to say it is growing on me. And once again he stirs me to think.The wikipedia references Cave as saying this about Lazarus and the inspiration for the title track:
“Ever since I can remember hearing the Lazarus story, when I was a kid, you know, back in church, I was disturbed and worried by it. Traumatized, actually. We are all, of course, in awe of the greatest of Christ’s miracles – raising a man from the dead – but I couldn’t help but wonder how Lazarus felt about it. As a child it gave me the creeps, to be honest. I’ve taken Lazarus and stuck him in New York City, in order to give the song, a hip, contemporary feel. I was also thinking about Harry Houdini who spent a lot of his life trying to debunk the spiritualists who were cashing in on the bereaved. He believed there was nothing going on beyond the grave. He was the second greatest escapologist, Harry was, Lazarus, of course, being the greatest. I wanted to create a kind of vehicle, a medium, for Houdini to speak to us if he so desires, you know, from beyond the grave.”
Further confirmation that the bible is full of stories that are not really “kids stuff”. Thanks Nick, for reminding us what a story might look like from the perspective of a child. Fresh life can be found in the seemingly most unlikely of places.
As this article from the Age puts it: “perhaps minstrels will convey something to us that ministers cannot”.
I am not wanting to read too much into Cave’s morbid musings about a dysfunctional Lazarus who crashes and burns with the pressure of his miraculous second go, but never-the-less, Cave’s work is rich with spirituality, and much of it speaks with a prophetic albeit uncomfortable edge.