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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 283
Sunday, Oct 21, 2012

“No Pussy Blues”
Grinderman

2007

“♫ with their
questioning
eyes/ that
I must above
all things love
myself
♫”

For those new to the well-endowed songwriting canon of Nick Cave, I introduce you to Mr. King Ink in the guise as the horny leader of Grinderman. Nick discussed the aim of his now disbanded Grinderman [2006-2011] project when he said, “There’s comfortability with the Bad Seeds that Grinderman disrupts. That’s what’s chaotic about Grinderman. I get very different responses to it from my very close friends, from my colleagues, people I work with. Some love it, some are baffled by it. Some are like flat-out, ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ which is exciting to me. There’s a pressure with the Bad Seeds that I don’t feel in Grinderman. Within the Bad Seeds there is a sense of duty for me to the band’s legacy. I don’t want to put out a whole load of shitty records with the Bad Seeds. There’s a kind of open rule within Grinderman that it’s OK to embarrass yourself, to go to places that could be potentially disastrous.

How bold was Cave in his Grinderman pose? Listen to the carnal classic that is “No Pussy Blues” and that will tell you how lustful he became. Nick Cave explained to The Guardian UK on how songs from first Grinderman album was created when he said, “It’s out there in those regions that interesting things are found, but it’s creatively dangerous to go there. We go into the studio with nothing at all. No lyrics, none of that, no chord charts. The only thing I had for the first record was an empty notebook with the words No Pussy Blues written on one page. This time I didn’t even have that. We play for five days, then we listen to this morass of … bullshit that we’ve played, and suddenly these great bits of music emerge. I worked a lot on those lyrics. Some of them sound quite simple and direct, but I put in the hours over those lyrics. A few, like “No Pussy Blues”, came out of ad-libbing, and didn’t really need that much toying around.”

Looking back, comparing his duty to The Bad Seeds, Nick talked about his years as a Grinderman with pride when he said, “There where aspects of the first album that people really liked and I wasn’t really happy with. The heavy narrative was still coming out of The Bad Seeds, I felt. A way of writing songs, even though I was talking about different things, was still in the style of The Bad Seeds, like ”˜No Pussy Blues’ or something like that. There’s a free running verse thing that’s goes on that I’ve always done, where you follow the story. The listener’s ear isn’t listening to the music, they’re listening to the story, and I really tried to get away from that on this record. A more fractured narrative, so you listen to the music in a different way and you weren’t required to listen to any story or narrative. Because I write, because I can only write in a certain way.” The way that I write, I am a sort of storyteller. I’ve just had to shatter the stories. I thought it was something much darker that was coming out this time. There’s humor in there but that’s largely added in later. In the sessions it got kind of dark, desperate and evil, which we really liked. But I kind of added the humorous element later on. Give it a little levity.”

Most of Grinderman’s songs need to be taken like a shot of tequila salt. “No Pussy Blues” isn’t meant to be taken as a lyrical dissertation; this is vintage bellow the belt rock and roll emotion. “A lot of it was suggested by the ad-libbed lyrics. I’m not the kind of writer who has an idea, then writes it into a song. I find the idea by writing. The song then has a will of its own.” Nick Cave said describing the song writing process of Grinderman. If you’re looking for some deep literary Bad Seed meaning in “No Pussy Blues” you’ve come to the wrong band. Most of Grinderman’s music was writing spontaneously in the studio as drummer Jim Sclavunos clarified when he said, “When we record, it’s not 30 takes seeking performance nirvana. It stays pretty raw. It did on stage here and likely will remain so throughout the tour as Grinderman tears apart what it put together, summoning the spirit of its rowdy, free-form recording sessions until it roars.”

That’s what I love about Grinderman. Nick Cave’s testosterone based band was all about carnal based, “I am horny, hear me roar” male instinctive aesthetic desire to express ourselves physically in the art of our private passion plays. We’ve all been there at one time crooning the chorus of Cave’s very lascivious song. But not everyone enjoyed Cave’s clever lusty word play. Cave talked about the explaining he had to do, with his wife, concerning some of his more wilder Grinderman carnal compositions as he said, “I mean, she was much more uncomfortable about “No Pussy Blues,” I’ve got to say. [Laughs] That one took a hell of a lot of explaining. All my life my songs have gotten in trouble with the people that I’m involved with at the time. [Laughs] But I see all my songs as love letters. These days, I don’t write songs to hurt people. And “Worm Tamer” is a comic song. So was “No Pussy Blues,” but my wife didn’t find that one quite so funny.” There are some like Mrs. Cave who may not appreciate blue balled irony of Nick’s “No Pussy Blues,” to those I say, it’s a Grinderman thing you wouldn’t understand.

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