Following the release of Bob Dylan’s new song ‘Murder Most Foul’, one fan got more excited than most. He surmised that Dylan’s new track could be a pathway to self-reflection and, ultimately, a further degree of enlightenment. That fan was Nick Cave.
So, we’re dipping back into the Far Out archives to look back at an interview in which the Bad Seeds singer not only lauds Dylan as a saviour of music but also picks out the one song of Dylan’s he “wished he had written.” It’s not necessarily the one you’d pick.
In an interview dating back to 1995, Cave, the leader of illustrious Aussie rockers The Bad Seeds, discusses some of his favourite records when he says: “I constantly buy the same record over and over again: I’ve bought so many versions of Nashville Skyline – I must be keeping Dylan in… whatever that is he needs keeping in.” We imagine harmonicas?
Later in the interview, before he’d met the fabled Dylan, and the host asks the Bad Seeds man if he can name one song in history that he wishes he had written. Pausing for a moment, scratching his head, he answered: “Well I like that Dylan song ‘I Threw It All Away’ off Nashville Skyline.
“There was always something about that song, that was so simple, and an audacity to this sort of simplicity to that song. But it was so… so powerful at the same time. For me, at least. I was always ragingly envious of that song.”
The song, a major standout moment on the 1969 album Nashville Skyline, sees Dylan sing about the overwhelming feelings of anger about the cruel loss of love. Interestingly, when he was creating the song, Dylan performed a rare version for former Beatle George Harrison and his wife Pattie in November 1968. Rumour has it that Harrison was so impressed by the track that he stayed up all night to learn the song himself.
Dylan’s has that effect on people. The freehweelin’ troubadour has been reducing songwriters to quivering wrecks almost from the very beginning. Cave once told of how he later met the legendary singer and as with most UK based rock and roll stories, it began at a rainy Glastonbury Festival in 1998.
Dylan, likely charmed by Cave’s macabre storytelling on the 1996 album The Murder Ballads, seek out the Australian to pass on his congratulations. Dylan even allowed Cave to add to the lyrics of his song, ‘Wanted Man’, which he later effortlessly performed with aplomb.
In a later interview, Cave romantically recalled the moment Dylan appeared to him as if sent from the Heavens, “It was raining heavily and I was standing in the doorway of my trailer in the band enclosure, watching the water rise quicker and quicker, so that now it was running into my trailer.”
He theatrically continues as he does with almost all of his writing “There was a crack of thunder, I looked up and saw a man in a hooded windcheater rowing a tiny boat across the enclosure toward me. The water is now up to my knees. The man pulls the boat in and extends a hand that has a long thumbnail. His hand in mine feels smooth and cold, but giving.”
“The man, who is Bob Dylan, says something like, “I like your stuff,” and before I can reply, he turns the boat around and rows back to his trailer.” It’s the story of two legends meeting and one likely peeling away from the conversation and getting as giddy as a schoolgirl, and the other, well, the other was Bob Dylan.
Below, listen to Nashville Skyline’s ‘I Threw It All Away’ and watch Cave give it the seal of approval.