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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 162
Wed. July 10, 2013

“Far from Me”
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

1996

“♫ From
the ridiculous
to the
sublime
♫”

The definition of an almost perfect song is one that connects with you back to a time or face so vividly– she sparks a flashback so intense that the lyrics become a shade of your shaken existence. “Far From Me” is one of those songs to be. I remember how the light would hit her skin waiting for me as I would press play on my favorite Nick Cave CD. It’s the only one I left at her place in San Antonio. I recall when the music played we used to reach closer and deeper while listening to Nick Cave. “Far From Me” was the song were I would feel her the most closest and ironically, Cave’s song mirrored the fragility through torch song lament of Nick’s lyrics, she once embraced.

It’s no coincidence for years I couldn’t listen to Cave’s The Boatman’s Call and I wasn’t alone. “Far From Me” and a few others including “West Country Girl” were inspired by his romantic affair with Polly Jean Harvey. Talking about the emotions of The Boatman’s Call’s most memorable song, Nick reminisced to The Daily Telegraph in 2001, when he said, “My lyric writing reached some sort of hysterical crescendo about the time The Boatman’s Call, reporting what was going on in my life in the most melodramatic way; ordinary stuff magnified to heroic proportions. And I find it very difficult to listen to that record now because of that.

Still, much later in 2008 Cave had a more honest response when talking to Q Magazine about “Far From Me” when he admitted he needed to feel the pain to write songs from The Boatman’s Call. “I’ll do anything to get a good song. Even be involved in a disastrous relationship. Love dies. What remains is the art. I can look back at my songs and piece my life together. I have songs waiting now for the catastrophic element to manifest itself. [I need] experience the disaster to complete the work.” I so can relate, especially looking back and some of those memorable places that have inspired so many poems, stories and unfinished songs. Looking back, the pain was worth the art that reflects back to aches on the page.
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Even though Cave has been known to pen songs by writing about his own personal experiences with loving hot blooded femme fatales— has this made him an expert in matters of the broken heart? Nick addressed this in an interview with comedian Mark Maron when he said, “I have a deep understanding of troubled women. I have a very strange relationship in general with women around my music. There’s some that understand it and some that think there should be a law against it. It’s managed to get itself a reputation and unfairly, I think. I like to look at particular issues between men and women and address some of those issues. Because I write about those sorts of things, people assume I am like that as well.

While the lyrical persona that is Nick Cave may be the expert of how to woo your way to a woman’s heart, the songwriter refuted these claims when he told Mojo Magazine, “I’m not an authority on relationships. I’m not an authority on much at all. I’m simply trying to write the songs in the best way I can, and each song is very much tainted by the way I feel at the time of writing. So there are no ultimate points being made here about love, or about God or whatever…I have felt distrusted and bitter about relationships, and that’s there on [The Boatman’s Call] occasionally.”

All in all, I feel like “Far From Me” is a snapshot of the way Nick Cave was feeling about his evaporating love affair with Polly Jean Harvey. There’s still some mistrusted longing when he sings “Did you ever care for me?/Were you ever there for me?/So far from me;” Even though those words are coming from this Australian born wordsmith and rock star, we’ve all asked those same questions to a former lover. Cave’s universal piano song for unrequited love is harrowing touchstone on Nick’s The Boatman’s Call.
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In 2008, Nick confessed to The Guardian UK, “[Did I know] that I was doing the big confessional record? No, no. When I was making half that record I was furious because certain things had happened in my love life that seriously pissed me off. And some of those songs came straight out of that. I don’t regret making it but, yeah, it does a bit, because the songs are of a moment when you felt a certain way. When you don’t any more, you just think, ‘Fuck – please!’” You can still hear the pain agonizing over Cave’s bitter and aching vocal. Immortalized as this memorable song on The Boatman’s Call, it’s hard to believe that “Far From Me” was one of the songs that reflected our naked intimacy that fell misplaced; and we were like most star-crossed lovers– who could never emulate sparks we experienced in the dark.

Funny, I would one day like to thank Cave for being the soundtrack to our carnal adventures. We shared some moments so tender, so intimate, no matter how distant her memory fades, this Boatman’s Call gem resonates emotions stirred within the haunted beauty of Nick Cave’s “Far From Me.”

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