Nick Cave is an artist who, despite being at the forefront of what music should be in 2019 and beyond, has had a gargantuan career. The Australian singer has delivered a lorry load of records and one-off single. A particularly special release of the latter would see Cave alongside long time friend Shane MacGowan performing Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’.
Back in 1992, with both artist’s careers entering a new dawn of reduced activity and prolonged legend status, the pair put the prolificacy of the previous decade aside and brought the world a one-off cover we never knew we needed.
Billed as a Christmas song aimed at the coveted Christmas number 1 spot for 1992, Cave and MacGowan ditch their bands (The Bad Seeds and The Pogues) in favour of a drunken and swirling rendition of Louis Armstrong’s 1967 ode to the beauty of the earth.
It feels fitting that the pair have ditched their bands because on this performance the two men sound as if they only have one another in the whole entire world. Displaying the same kind of energy and class one might expect to see in two drunks propping up the bar giving it their all at Karaoke.
It’s a rendition of the song filled to the brim with the pair’s balancing eccentricities. While Cave is demure and confronting, MacGowan is poetic and dreamy – in that whisky-breath kind of way. It makes for one of the more interesting covers of this song you’re ever likely to hear, as they turn the protagonist of Armstrong’s worldwide love letter into something far darker, far grittier, and far more real.
Listen below to Nick cave and Shane MacGowan’s 1992 cover of Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’.